HFI | Staples case study

Staples - E-commerce website

HFI helps Staples.com boost repeat customers by 67%

The challenge

Staples.com determined that the key to online success and increased market share was to make its e-commerce site as usable as possible. Staples wanted the site to be "customer-driven" – to support customer needs in an easy-to-use, intuitive way.

The approach

HFI and Staples spent hundreds of hours evaluating users' work environments, decision-support needs, and tendencies when browsing and buying office products and small business services through the Web. Methods included data gathering, heuristic evaluations, and usability testing.

The outcome

The new Staples.com site has increased usability, reduced clicks, time-saving navigational tools, and personalized time-saving features for quick access.

Specific site improvements include:

  • a streamlined, intuitive navigational framework for improved usability,
  • intuitive searching capabilities,
  • personalized shopping lists for frequently purchased items,
  • comparison charts,
  • persistently viewable shopping cart for ease in selecting and viewing items,
  • the option to securely store credit cards, a dramatically shortened registration process,
  • an online Rebate Center for e-commerce, catalog and retail shoppers to print rebate forms and check the status of submitted rebates,
  • further improvements to be implemented soon.
Performance results
  • 67% more repeat customers The independent research firm MediaMetrix found that the site had 300,000 repeat customers in the third quarter, as compared to 180,000 in the second quarter. "This 67% jump speaks to the increased stickiness of site and the positive experience of a customer the first time through," said Colin Hynes, Director of Site Usability at Staples.com, who oversaw the usability effort and worked closely with the HFI team.
  • 31-45% reduced dropoff rates Staples.com's internal metrics show a 31% decrease in dropoff rate from the home page, and 45% decreased dropoff for SKU sets (lists of products that Web customers browse through the site).
  • 10% better shopping experience BizRate found that the Staples relaunch improved ease of placing orders, overall purchasing experience, and likelihood of purchasing again, each by about 10%.
  • 80% increased traffic MediaMetrix found that since the site relaunch, Staples.com has ranked first in the office-supply industry in unique daily visitors. And when the Christmas shopping season began after Thanksgiving, 2000, Staples.com had a 80% increase in unique daily visitors - twice the average increase for other sites, and the second best in the world for any category of site.
  • Increased revenue It's hard to pinpoint cause and effect with certainty, but third-quarter 2000 sales were up 491% over the previous year and also increased over the second quarter.
  • Metrics aren't the only encouraging signs. The relaunched Staples site also recently won a prestigious award for best business-to-business site from MIMC, the Massachusetts Interactive Media Council. Says Hynes, "HFI's team of usability experts and customer-centric approach were key factors in Staples.com winning this award. As with any good partnership, they share the Staples.com vision of creating outstanding customer service through a great Web experience."

Find out how HFI can improve your Web site or application.
Contact hfi@humanfactors.com or call 1-800-242-4480


"Partnering with HFI we are able to further evaluate our customers' online shopping experiences and needs, and translate them into significant site improvements,"

Jeanne Lewis - president, Staples.com

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