September 1, 2005, 12:00 AM

To Staples, “easy” means customer centric on Staples.com

To go along with its “that was easy” slogan in national advertising, Staples Inc. has relaunched Staples.com as a site that makes it easy to shop by different classifications of shoppers.

To go along with its “that was easy” slogan in national advertising, Staples Inc. has relaunched Staples.com as a site that makes it easy to shop by different classifications of shoppers.

Working with feedback from thousands of customers during its redesign project, Staples re-configured the site to make general shopping easier-for instance, product categories are now listed in the top half of the home page-while offering features designed for particular types of shoppers. “We decided to redesign the whole site to make it easier,” says Colin Hynes, director of usability.

More than two years ago, Staples launched a usability research project to determine how shoppers used its product pages, but it also learned that the success of product pages stemmed from the usability of the pages that lead shoppers to product pages, Hynes says.

The result is a more effective site search feature and navigation that supports recently identified types of customers, “Lisa Listmaker,” for instance, a highly organized office manager who shops for her usual products with item numbers that can be entered online for fast ordering; and “Sammy Specific,” who typically shops for individual products by brand or general specifications. For Lisa Listmaker, Staples.com now offers a re-ordering feature that maintains lists of a customer’s past orders placed online, by phone or fax. For Sammy Specific, it offers a new “Help Me Decide” tool that makes product recommendations based on a shopper’s requirements.

For all types of shoppers, Staples.com now offers features such as a patent-pending function that streamlines the selecting of multiple products to add to a shopping cart. Other new features include instant online submission of rebates followed by e-mail confirmations and tracking numbers.

Working with iPhrase Technologies, Staples.com can now set search engine rules to refine search results. A rule can automatically drop results considered less likely to be relevant-the bottom-ranking 50% of all possible results gathered by the engine from the database, for example. The search engine rates the relevancy of result listings against particular query-based factors like history- how often did returning that particular listing against that particular query lead to a click-and the advice and experience of the search technology provider. “We are able to give higher weighting to particular items we think would be of value to customers,” Hynes says. m

 

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