Staples and Office Depot

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

4 February 2015

Staples will buy Office Depot. Who cares?

Today it was announced that Staples will buy Office Depot for about $6.3 billion. As a small business owner, this purchase will mean that Stealing Share will likely be forced to spend a little extra in office supplies because there will be only one major store now.

But, as a brand guy, I could really care less.

I find neither brand has any compelling reason to be preferred. I never have. We use Staples here in the office but I can’t tell you why. I know we get deliveries from Staples from time to time and our printer paper packaging has its logo on it. But we use it simply because that is what we have always done.

But come on, it’s office supplies. Does it really matter?

Looks just like Office Depot to me.

Looks just like Office Depot to me.

You could argue that this is simply a case of survival of the fittest and the stronger brand won the day. Staples after all has the “easy button” to remember.

But if you have ever set foot into a Staples or any other office supply store, it becomes clear very quickly that it is anything but easy. There is too much stuff on too few shelves and never where I think it should be.

Because we use a lot of index cards at Stealing Share, a trip that should take five minutes ends up taking 15 because the cards are never in the same place from one store to the other. “Easy?” I think not.

So if regulators approve this transaction, prices will go up and consumers will have less choice – even though I don’t believe consumers had much choice before. The two stores are nearly identical and, frankly, we all probably choose based on location.

For most of us, the sign will change and no one will notice. Seems to me that if Staples had $6 billion laying around it could have taken the tiniest fraction of it to invest in its brand, build some real preference and then buy Office Depot in a fire sale.

See more posts in the following related categories: Office Depot Staples Staples Office Depot

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