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Staples Has a New Plan to Take On Amazon

By Daniel B. Kline - Feb 11, 2020 at 12:18PM

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Can the struggling retailer reinvent itself?

Amazon (AMZN 0.25%) made it so small business owners no longer have to go to an office supply chain like Staples to buy, well, office supplies. It has been easier to order from Amazon than go to a physical store for a long time so Staples needs to give its former customers a reason to come in.

The struggling chain is trying to do that with a model store it's trying in six locations near its Massachusetts headquarters. The concept, Staples Connect, is "built around the ever-evolving needs of the retail customer with a focus on community, hands-on learning and solutions," according to a press release.

A Staples Connect co-working space.

Staples Connect stores will have co-working spaces. Image source: Staples.

What is Staples Connect?

The six pilot stores offer co-working space (which requires a membership), a podcast studio with available help for customers who need it, meeting/event space, and SolutionShop, a store-within-a-store that offers everything from marketing help to printing services, and TSA pre-check enrollment.

"We recognize that the way people shop is changing, and with the launch of Staples Connect we are adapting to fit the needs of our customers," said Staples U.S. Retail CEO Mike Motz in the press release.

Will this work?

Staples needs to give consumers a reason to visit its stores. It also needs to find better ways to monetize its considerable retail footprint. Staples Connect could do that.

People may visit a podcast studio to record. They may join a co-working space if it's priced right and well-located. This might be too little too late for the chain, but it's a smart attempt at resetting its business.

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