May 16, 2003, 12:00 AM

With new web portal, Staples seeks happier workers as well as customers

The office products retailer reinforces its customer service strategy by providing virtually all employees with web access to corporate information ranging from store planograms to pension plans.

A new corporate web portal for thousands of Staples Inc. employees in stores, call centers and distribution centers lets them access several applications, including e-mail, human resources programs, and store operations information through a single web page. Called Staples@work, the portal is intended to reinforce the company`s customer service philosophy by making employees more productive, happier and better at serving customers. "By making information more accessible, we support our employee associates in making our end-customers happy," Jeff Conners, IS manager for enterprise web applications, tells InternetRetailer.com.

Staples installed a corporate portal from Plumtree Software for its headquarters office in early 2000, then began extending it to its stores and other locations in the fall of 2001. Since then, it has made the portal accessible through 8,000 terminals, many of which are intended for employees who don`t normally have direct access to the Internet.

Among its portal access terminals are kiosks in distribution centers and and modified POS terminals in its stores. Through Staples@work, employees can view updated information on rebate coupons or store planograms, access a web-based store signage application to print out the latest promotional message, or access their self-service HR applications, change their home address or to check their retirement plan.

In addition, employees can send messages through the portal to the corporate IT department to schedule a service request.

Conners says Staples is also looking into extending access to the portal through wireless devices and plans to test the portal in its U.K. stores next week.

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