Can Staples be your IT department?

Staples launched a technology unit to deliver everything from data center hosting to printer management to network services.

Staples on Tuesday launched a technology unit to deliver everything from data center hosting to printer management to network services.

The division, Staples Technology Solutions, is the combination of two acquisitions by the retailer in recent years. In 2008, Staples acquired Corporate Express' imaging and computer graphics supply business. In 2006, Staples acquired Thrive Networks.

Until now, those IT services were lumped under the Staples Advantage division, the business-to-business unit. Staples revenue is evenly roughly evenly split between its retail and B2B units.

Under the Staples flag, the company will have a more coherent message to deliver to small and mid-sized businesses and Fortune 1,000 companies, said Jim Lippie, vice president of Staples Network Services.

"We are the IT department for many customers on the small end. Our sweet spot is companies with 40 to 50 employees," said Lippie in an interview. However, Staples also provides labor to augment existing IT departments.

Lippie said that Staples Technology Solutions has about 400 employees focused on managed services, network administration and other IT tasks. In the field, Staples Technology Solutions competes with CDW and local and regional resellers.

Staples Technology Solutions has the following services:

  • Managed services and on-site and remote server and desktop support;
  • Printer fleet management;
  • Data center assessments and supplies;
  • And procurement software that takes advantage of Staples e-commerce know-how.

The company also resells equipment to businesses.

Other key points via Lippie:

  • Staples is looking to grow the unit and focus on the midmarket. The growth approach will be "profitable and measured," but Lippie also sees a lot of open field running in the market.
  • There is no overlap between promoting Staples Technology Solutions in stores. Lippie explained that the two sides of the business focus on entirely different markets. The stores are focused on microbusinesses with one to five workers.

And here's how Staples is positioning its IT services group.


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