Staples wants to be the solution for small businesses

At 3D Print Week in New York, I was presented with Staples, Inc. was invited for an interview with Behzad Soltani, Vice President of Global E-commerce and Business Development in 2013.

After writing about the company several times, and as a consumer, I absolutely didn’t anticipate any surprises coming from Office Suppliers, but, when I went to the Staples booth to speak with Behzad, I knew Turns out Staples is actually a lot more in the 3D printing space than it used to be.

In speaking with Behzad, Director of Corporate Communications Mark Cottella and Business Development Manager Sam Garzon, we started with some of the topics I already knew. On the retail front, Staples sells 3D printers and 3D printing supplies in-store and online.

You can visit their website and order a wide range of machines: the entire MakerBot line, different generations of 3D Systems’ Cube 3D printers, Afinia H480, BETHFIRST, Leapfrog Creator and Creator XL, Flashforge Creator, Matter and Form 3D Scanner. Some of these are also available in physical Staples stores, many of which have MakerBot machines.

As we began discussing some of the company’s other initiatives outside the US, I learned that Staples, as a global company, does not enter various markets with a one-sided approach. Behzad explained, “Our products and services are very local. Some brands have some strength. For example, Staples Europe originated with Macor. The US is much more diverse, so Staples works with Stratasys and 3D Systems.

We do this across the board. On the service side, there are a variety of technologies out there. This goes for standard printing, as well, with Xerox, Canon, HP and all these companies. We want to take all these services to our customers.”

It was at this point that the overall Staples business model for 3D printing began to add up. Just as Staples offers multiple 2D printer brands, Office Supplier is not about selling a single 3D printer or 3D printing service. In fact, they are not even just an office supplier. Staples is a business-to-business solutions provider.

Therefore, in addition to office equipment, the company sells printing and design services, even business consulting. A small bakery owner may be looking to Staples to purchase some binders to organize wedding cake designs, order a few thousand flyers, or just about to redesign her store’s signage. You can talk to an advisor. All this, who does not conduct his own business, did not even happen to me; I just go there to buy ink cartridges!

As the company enters the 3D printing space, all these offerings go with it. Staples not only sell 3D printers, but they provide 3D printing services and can help customers implement 3D printing in their own businesses.

That same bakery owner can turn to Staples to have their signage made and, when talking to a Staples sales rep, 3D Systems’ Projet 660 system, their Chefjet Pro, or the ceramic toppers their CeraFab 3D printer made. Similarly, businesses in need of industrial-grade plastics can take advantage of Stratasys’ Fortus FDM technologies.

At the other end of Staples’ 3D printing spectrum, a customer wanders into Staples looking for paper and comes to the shop’s innovation center, where a 3D printer can be tucked away. They can purchase the MakerBot on display or talk to a store representative to learn that the company also offers advanced 3D printing services and expertise.

It became clear to me that, for small businesses that already know the value of 3D printing, they could find a local 3D printing service provider to produce their stuff, but, those who are familiar with the technology have been, they probably do not know its benefits.

To get started, let’s not just design with the benefits of 3D printing in mind. In doing so, they approach a knowledgeable business who can help them navigate the otherwise confusing world of this new technology.

Soltani elaborates, “They can come to us and we can give them the right technology. And that’s one of the true values ​​I think we bring. They come into this area where there is a lot of innovation and want to take advantage of technology, but it is constantly changing. So, in trying to upgrade and advance the machines, materials, etc., we can bring them to them.

Furthermore, when a client requires specific design and engineering services that one might expect from an industrial design or service firm, Staples is able to provide that expertise through its partners, such as Stratasys Direct. Manufacturing or 3D Systems QuickParts Division.

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