How Staples evolved store services in an everchanging hybrid world

NRF member spotlight: Helping customers stay connected and productive on the go
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NRF 2022 Top 100 Retailer and longtime NRF member Staples US Retail has expanded its services to help customers meet their business and personal needs even if their shopping experience or office space is untraditional. While redesigning products and services to help consumers stay productive on the go, the company continues to expand its partnerships and long-term efforts in tech recycling and sustainable business practices.

We connected with Marshall Warkentin, chief marketing and merchandising officer for Staples US Retail, to learn about the NRF member company’s commitment to meeting consumers’ needs in the wake of the pandemic.

Tell us about how you’re adapting to meet the needs of remote work and travel.

A store display inside the travel area of a Staples

We have adjusted our assortment of products and services to provide more options for customers both within and outside of a traditional office setting. When customers walk into our stores, they can have a more interactive shopping experience. Many of our stores feature real-life vignettes where they can test out furniture, tech products and travel accessories prior to making a purchase.

It’s clear that hybrid work is here to stay. Our store associates are equipped to help in this new hybrid reality. At Staples, we aim to help customers thrive from wherever they choose to work and learn. Staples stores also offer “remote services” that customers previously utilized at their offices, such as assistance with printing, shipping, tech support and travel services.

Staples has focused on serving our business customers since the company was founded in 1986, and travel services have become a crucial part of their needs. Currently, 170 stores offer TSA PreCheck enrollment, and Passport Photo Services are available nationally.

Staples’ suite of travel services is continually evolving, with the addition of new services like expedited passports, which we recently rolled out in 65 stores. These travel-related services provide our customers with a host of reliable options for both their business and personal travel needs.

Why have you developed shipping options in Staples?

Our partnership with Happy Returns is one of the many ways we aim to provide customers with end-to-end shipping capabilities in our stores, and it has been a great way to increase awareness around these offerings. Staples stores currently offer UPS Shipping Services in all stores nationally, with Happy Returns and Amazon Hub Lockers available in select stores.

These various options turn our Staples stores into a shipping destination for small businesses everywhere. Our extensive assortment of shipping products really enables our stores to serve as a convenient one-stop-shop for shipping.

Tell us about how customers are using recycling services at Staples.

Staples has offered recycling services in our stores for over 15 years, but in some ways, it is our “best kept secret.” It is a renewed area of focus for Staples that we are continuing to invest in. With tech turnover at an all-time high, our goal is to raise awareness around the importance of recycling wherever possible, and that Staples serves our communities as a convenient destination for tech recycling, shredding and of course, ink and toner cartridge recycling.

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Recycling at Staples has made an impressive environmental impact over the years — according to our ESG data, 153 million pounds of electronics have been recycled through this program since 2012. This year, Staples launched a new “Free Tech Take Back” program to reward customers who recycle in store, offering them $5 back in rewards when they recycle or shred in store while continuing to offer $2 back in rewards per recycled ink or toner cartridge.

What do you find most valuable about your NRF membership?

We value that NRF creates a forum and environment for retailers to ascertain what issues are impacting the industry, and how best to address them. The breadth of knowledge and guidance that NRF provides across literally every aspect of retail operations is unmatched.

We appreciate that NRF can anticipate issues and help its members with outstanding solutions. This was even more apparent as we were navigating the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two and a half years.

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