With a focus on convenience and a wide range of product offerings, Staples was the world’s largest office supplies retailer. The office supply sector had almost no barriers to entry as capital costs were low compared to other retail industries. No licensing requirements were necessary, easing the burden on new entrants. The low level of differentiation of goods between one office supply store and the next forced new entrants to provide either niche or specialty products to compete, often in the online realm. As the retail industry had been trending towards e-commerce, Staples’ traditional bricks and mortar stores were proving too costly. The global office supplies leader found it increasingly difficult to compete on the Internet.

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Case Study