Staples is bringing cognitive intelligence to its B2B business with the addition of IBM's Watson to the office supply reordering process.
It's the next phase of the Staples Easy System pilot program, which integrates IBM’s Watson technology to simplify office supply management for Staples Business Advantage Customers.
The Watson-enabled interface lets customers tap the Easy Button via the app, text, email, Facebook Messenger or a Slackbot to reorder supplies, track shipments or chat with a customer service representative.
In addition to simplifying customer interactions, cognitive capabilities built into the system and powered by a combination of Watson Knowledge Studio and Staples’ internal personalization APIs will help the Staples Easy System learn more about businesses' preferences over time, including their preferred products and quantities.
Eventually, the system will be able to make product and services recommendations based on the customer’s current needs, according to the company.
“Staples and IBM have combined the power of Watson technology with Staples’ expertise in helping small and medium businesses to transform how companies shop for everything they need for their office,” said Faisal Masud, Staples exec-VP, e-commerce and customer experience. "With the Easy System, administrators will have greater overall management of their organizations’ procurement processes, ultimately saving them time they can instead spend on running their office. It’s the assistant’s assistant.”
The feature is being tested in the Austin, Texas market and will be expanded to New York before the end of 2016.
Staples has been moving ahead to build business solutions after its scuttled merger with Office Depot.