For many years, Staples Inc. stores have gone toe to toe with other brick-and-mortar giants like Office Depot and OfficeMax. But the office superstore leader will be focused on a different competitor this holiday season.
Staples said Thursday that it would match the prices of Amazon.com Inc., its top Internet competitor, to boost holiday sales. The price match applies to both online Staples sales and purchases made in stores.
The Framingham-based company is the second largest e-commerce site in the world behind Amazon.com, which lists more than 130,000 office products and can often deliver lower prices on goods than other retailers.
The Staples offer could counter a practice retailers call “showrooming,” in which consumers visit a traditional brick-and-mortar store to touch and test a product, but then search online to buy it at a lower price.
Staples said it will honor the lowest price on products sold by retailers that have both an online and store presence. It specifically called out Amazon as the only e-commerce company it would also match.
“We’re the second largest e-commerce player after Amazon, and that’s part of the reason why we’re matching them,” said Alison Corcoran, senior vice president of North American stores and online marketing at Staples. “As far as we’re concerned, they are the leader. We’re battling with them to try to get closer.”
Staples sells more than $10 billion worth of products online annually, and Staples.com has price-matched Amazon goods for the past few years. But this marks the first time the retail stores have offered to meet lower prices on Amazon, the company said.
Corcoran said the decision to include stores is consistent with a grand restructuring plan introduced a year ago.
The retailer is struggling as demand for office staples like paper, ink, and toner declines and competition from e-tailers, such as Amazon, puts pressure on sales and profit margins. The company that invented the office superstore is phasing out the big-box model in favor of fewer and smaller stores with a greater emphasis on Internet and mobile sales.
The Staples store and Internet price-match marks the company’s latest effort to adapt to the digital consumer by blending the retail and online shopping experiences. The company is using mobile applications, Staples.com kiosks in stores, and an in-store pickup option for Internet orders to blur the lines between in-person and online shopping.
Staples said the new price-match offer will begin Nov. 3 and continue through the holidays.
Shoppers in stores can use smartphones to show proof of a better deal at the customer service desk. Internet shoppers must call 800-333-3330 to take advantage of a lower price.
The company said the promotion does not apply to sales offered by other retailers on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.