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Staples unveils new eCommerce development centre

Business and office products retailer Staples has opened its new development centre in downtown Seattle, which will house eCommerce and engineering teams, and act as a hub for innovation and new digital initiatives.

The US base will look to enhance understanding of search, search engine optimisation (SEO), personalisation and other technical areas that are growing in importance to the retail industry.

Seattle represents Staples' second west coast lab location, joining the San Mateo Innovation Lab, which focuses on personalising the shopping experience and allows the company to tap into the wealth of engineering and eCommerce expertise based in the Silicon Valley area of California.

The retailer is looking to recruit product management, software development, usability, analytics and online merchandising positions for the new centre, as it continues to invest in omnichannel capabilities that allow consumers to shop seamlessly across various channels.

Faisal Masud, executive vice president for global eCommerce at Staples, said: "Seattle has a wealth of talented engineers and leaders who are perfect matches for the opportunities at Staples, primarily around using big data to develop a personalised shopping experience, and developing innovative global services.

"At the development centre, we're building core components to power innovative eCommerce. Our marketers and merchants will test and launch rapid innovative online selling models, targeting the right customer with the right products at the right time."

Staples is set to host several events at the new location in the coming months, including meet-up groups, networking meetings and hackathons.

The office supplies company is one of a number of large global retailers that are starting to reshape their thinking and act in the manner of technology companies, as opposed to traditional shop-based businesses.

Kiddicare.com founder and tech entrepreneur Scott Weavers-Wright told Essential Retail earlier this year that retailers are increasingly finding they need to expand their horizons to stay relevant and battle with the online pure-plays taking large percentages of market share.

"Staples is making a play to compete with Amazon because, if it doesn't, it'll be in trouble," he argued.

"Amazon is coming in and rewriting how retail is done. Retailers with store estates must desperately change their attitudes or they will go down."