June 23, 2011, 12:58 PM

Staples connects with tablet sales

With a refined site search, Staples.com kicks off sales of tablet computers.

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As it heads into this year’s holiday shopping season, Staples Inc. has already gotten off to a strong start in a new market: Selling tablet computers and related technology services, the office supplies retailer says.

Staples launched a tablet research center on Staples.com earlier this year that provides extensive information about tablet computers—other than Apple Inc.’s market-leading iPad, which Staples does not sell. The area within Staples.com offers product demonstration videos, zoom views, customer reviews and product specifications for each listed tablet. It also provides assistance in finding accessories like keyboards and carrying cases.

Before launching the tablet research center, shoppers looking for tablets on Staples.com would typically use the retailer’s site search feature to produce a basic list of about 10 tablets for sale, says Anabela Perozek, vice president of marketing for Staples.com, No. 2 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. Now a search takes the shopper for tablets directly to a tablet research center page. As a result conversion rates on tablets have gone up about 20%, Perozek says.

Shoppers can also reach the research center by clicking the Tablets button in the category navigation bar, which is available on every page through the Show All Products drop-down menu.

The improved online merchandising is expected to provide a boost going into this year’s holiday shopping season when Staples typically sees a spike in sales, says Steven Bussberg, senior vice president of Staples.com.

The boost in tablet sales plays into Staples’ broader growth strategy, he says. The retailer recently launched an office technology initiative to sell a broad range of technology products and services. He adds that Staples will provide consumers, as well as business clients, assistance in how to get the best use of new technology products. For example, the tablet research center provides information in categories such as developing graphical presentations and available mobile apps for business.

“We have a terrific opportunity to leverage both our web site and stores and our millions of customer relationships to sell more products and services beyond what we’ve been historically known for,” Bussberg says.

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