January 2, 2014, 12:59 PM

Staples highlights its expanding inventory in a new ad campaign

Staples is intentionally omitting the “L” from its logo on Staples.com to draw attention to its expansion beyond office supplies, largely by inviting outside merchants to sell on its e-commerce site.

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Staples Inc. wants shoppers to know that it isn’t just an office supplies retailer anymore.

The retailer, No. 2 in the Internet Retailer 2013 Top 500 Guide, today launched a new ad campaign called "Make More Happen” that aims to showcase the assorted wares it offers online through its new online marketplace. For instance, one of its new TV commercials takes place in a futuristic-looking factory where workers use a wide array of products—hardhats, goggles, cleaning products, tools and coffee—purchased from Staples.com to produce “the biggest idea ever seen.” However, the assembly line ultimately doesn’t produce a product because, the commercial notes, Staples offers everything a business needs except the big idea. In addition to the TV spots, Staples is highlighting its expanded selection in its stores, in online ads, including on social networks, and on the company’s delivery truck fleet.

The retailer is also adjusting its logo to highlight its efforts. Staples for now is leaving off the bent staple ‘L’ in its logo on its web site to draw attention to the rebranding. Starting Jan. 9 the retailer plans to swap in some of the new items it’s selling to replace the bent staple as the “l” in Staples. Staples is encouraging shoppers to discuss “What the L is going on at Staples?” on social media sites including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube  by using the hashtag #WhatTheL. Any word that starts with a pound sign (#) is a hashtag, which becomes a clickable link to all other mentions of that word.

“‘Make More Happen’ highlights how Staples is reinventing itself to provide every product businesses need to succeed," says Shira Goodman, executive vice president, global growth. "We're adding thousands of new products every day.”

Staples announced the launch of an online marketplace in October, with the goal of expanding its online business-to-business and consumer product offerings to more than 1 million SKUs. The retailer says it plans to go far beyond its core office supplies market by adding categories such as power tools, medical devices and garden supplies. That’s increasingly important because the office supplies category is in decline. Retail sales of office supplies in 2012 were 1.7% lower in absolute dollars than in 2003, and nearly 25% lower when accounting for inflation.

For a full account of how Staples is using the web to restructure its business, read the September 2013 cover story of Internet Retailer magazine.

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