Disconnected Retail Systems: Yet another reason to avoid shopping at Staples

Disconnected Retail Systems: Yet another reason to avoid shopping at Staples

I used to like Staples. I now find them a antiquated and out of touch.


I received a Service Plan Cash Card for a chair the didn’t hold up during the warranty period. Whole other story.

Here’s the deal. I finally received the cash card, and it is for in store use only. It has a long serial number as well as pin code, so you would think that it could be used online, probably even more securely than a credit card because it is proprietary. In other words, this cash is only good at Staples.

Now, to be fair, the card, in the fine print on the back, says for use in stores only. That may mean the company communicates expectations in a way (I did say fine print), but that still means their systems are antiquated.

So as  good customer, I receive coupons for discounts. I cannot use my online/phone coupon in combination with my cash card. I completely understand that the online system may have inventory that isn’t available in the stores, but the Staples experience, when it comes to information about me and transaction information, including gift cards, should be completely seamless and transparent across the operating units.

Bottom line Staples: Cash cards are cash. In the case of Gift Cards, of which the Service Plan card is a special case (same system) you have already collected cash form someone, either an individual or an third-party insurer. Operations between online and the store should be seamless, at least in terms of information and transactions.

There is a 20th Century Solution, it appears. I am told that if I go to a store, enter the online order and pay for the order at the store. And I SHOULD be able to use both the coupon and the cash card. This involves me getting into my car to drive to a Staples to enter an order into a computer that is connected to the same system I have at home. It is probably worth the $25 discount, but then the $25 discount won’t be $25 once I factor in gas and wear-and-tear.

I do want to acknowledge all of the very nice, very helpful, vey unempowered employees that talked to me about this and were very apologetic about the company’s inability to integrate their systems.

Daniel W. Rasmus

Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.

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