Staples Rebrands B-To-B Division

Staples Inc., parent company of Top 40 distributor Staples Promotional Products (asi/120601), announced it has renamed its business-to-business division from Staples Advantage to Staples Business Advantage. As part of the rebranding effort, the company has launched the Staples Easy System, giving customers the flexibility to order products and services on any device at any time.

“With more than 20 years of experience serving and fulfilling the needs of businesses of all sizes, this brand re-launch emphasizes the many advantages that our breadth of products, services and expertise offer to sophisticated business buyers,” said Shira Goodman, president of North American Operations.

Currently in testing, the Staples Easy System allows any office employee to place an order –using an updated version of the well-known Staples Easy Button – through email, text messaging or voice command when a product needs to be replenished. Staples says the system consolidates orders from multiple employees and devices into one shopping cart, making it easy to change quantities, replace brands, delete items and approve the final order. The system also remembers past orders and anticipates customer needs.

“Staples Business Advantage is committed to providing the most innovative resources and solutions in the market with the highest level of convenience to customers,” said Neil Ringel, executive vice president of Staples Business Advantage, the division that contains Staples’ promotional products business. “With Staples Easy System, ordering will transcend the limitations of apps and browsers, giving customers access to nearly 500,000 products ranging from office and breakroom supplies to furniture and technology products and services, anytime, anywhere and on any device, using the interface that is most convenient to them.”

A long-awaited court hearing between Staples and the Federal Trade Commission began Monday regarding the legality of Staples’ $6.3 billion proposed merger with Office Depot. The FTC argues that a partnership between the top two office-supply chains in the U.S. will create monopoly market conditions and restrict competition. In opening statements Monday, the lawyer for Staples argued that Amazon was planning a serious entry into the office supplies market, a move that would significantly alter the landscape and ensure that the merger with Office Depot would not lead to higher prices.

“The FTC’s actions to stop this transaction are based on a flawed analysis of the marketplace and a deep misunderstanding of the competitive landscape,” wrote Staples CEO Ron Sargent and Office Depot CEO Roland Smith in an open letter that was released Friday before the hearing.

“The combined company will be positioned to better serve the changing needs of business customers and compete more effectively against a large and diverse set of competitors. In fact, Staples has committed, again and again, to investing merger synergies in lower prices for all customers.”

Staples’ sales for the fourth quarter that ended Jan. 31 fell 7% to $5.3 billion from $5.7 billion a year earlier. Sales for the year also fell 6% to $21 billion from $22.5 billion in 2014.