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Staples acquires Calif. software firm

Staples Inc., the world’s second largest e-tailer, is setting up shop in the mecca of Internet technology.

The Framingham company acquired Runa, a small four-year-old California software company, on Monday and said it planned to develop a new e-commerce lab at its Silicon Valley headquarters.

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The company specializes in software that helps personalize the digital shopping experience. Runa claims the software it provides retailers increases online sales conversions by an average of 20 percent.

The San Mateo company’s technology uses browsing history, former purchases, and loads of other data to provide unique real-time offers to individual shoppers. It will also provide Staples’ digital customers with accurate shipping estimates before they check out.

Faisal Masud, executive vice president of global e-commerce at Staples, said the acquisition allows the retailer to swap “cookie-cutter” third-party programs developed for many retailers with software specifically tailored to its websites and applications.

“The biggest change is that today we are highly dependent on third parties to provide these technologies for us,” he said. “It’s a very important acquisition because it allows us to scale and automate our platforms a lot more seamlessly than we could in the past.”

Masud called the decision to open a technology lab in the heart of Silicon Valley a “no-brainer” for Staples. In the last year the company has strategically established a presence in the nation’s top technology hubs to compete for the brightest e-commerce talent.

The disclosure was made less than three weeks after Staples announced plans to open a second e-commerce lab devoted to Staples.com in Seattle, the home of online retailing giant Amazon.com Inc. The company’s first e-commerce center, the Velocity Lab in Kendall Square, opened in December and focuses on mobile technologies.

Staples said it will retain Runa’s entire 20-person team and intends to add a few dozen employees as soon as possible.

“The pool of talent that exists in both Seattle and the Bay Area is fairly rare and hard to find,” Masud said. “We’re trying to unlock ourselves and get the talent where the talent exists.”

Ashok Narasimhan, Runa’s chief executive, said under Staples his company has the “resources to transform the global e-commerce landscape.”

Staples declined to release the terms of the acquisition.

Taryn Luna can be reached at taryn.luna@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @tarynluna.
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