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02/05/2012

Staples Debuts Tablet-Optimized E-Commerce Site

This week, Staples will debut a tablet-optimized e-commerce website that emphasizes visual navigation and minimizes the need to type on a touchscreen keyboard. Consumer tablet users will be automatically routed to the tablet site at t.staples.com, according to published reports.

Users of the new tablet site will be able to navigate to popular product categories from the site's home page by tapping on oversized visual images or drop-down menus with large areas, avoiding the problem of "fat-fingered" shoppers mistakenly tapping for an option they don't want.

Staples also announced that it will open a new E-Commerce Innovation Center located in Cambridge, MA in May. The retailer is adding IT, product management, usability and creative positions, housing teams responsible for designing and implementing innovative new e-commerce solutions for its business customers.

Like Walmart, which launched its @WalmartLabs division in 2011 to focus on the intersection of social media and digital commerce, and Amazon with its Amazon Web Services, Staples may be adding solution development to its retailing role.

The new tablet site, developed with mobile technology provider Skava Inc., is purposely designed to keep users from typing anything, because the touchscreen keyboard takes up nearly half the screen size on a typical tablet. The retailer doesn't want to give up this valuable e-commerce real estate, according to Staples director of mobile strategy Prat Vemana, quoted in Internet Retailer.

Vemana added that its consumer research indicated that this was the right time to launch a separate site specifically for tablet users. "People want to be able to easily navigate the site, for it to be more touch-friendly and visually engaging," he said. "They also want to be able to quickly navigate it like on the desktop site."