Business continuity, CSPs, MSP

Staples Licenses Its Brand for Cloud, Managed IT Services

Frank Bifulco
Frank Bifulco

Staples (SPLS) is making another attempt at the cloud and managed IT services market. But this time, the company will lean heavily on technology partners and licensing deals. A case in point: Staples Records and Cloud Management, which will maintain physical and digital records for customers, actually involves cloud and business services from GRM Document Management.

According to Staples, the new service allows customers to "store, protect, organize, and share your important business information all through one single source you can trust." The service spans cloud records management; on-demand scanning and imaging; and secure, physical document storage.

The service is part of a new Staples push to license its brand for a "range of solutions oriented services and products." In essence, the retail giant is white labeling third-party technology platforms and presenting them under the Staples brand. But the provider -- in this case, GRM -- actually manages all of the major components of the technology for Staples.

“Staples is an iconic brand which businesses have come to recognize and trust as a leading provider of products and services,” said Frank Bifulco, executive VP, global marketing, Staples, in a prepared statement. “By working with other innovative companies offering business solutions we’re able to extend that brand to other product areas and introduce our customers to a whole new set of offerings.”

Brandgenuity is managing the licensing deals on behalf of Staples.

Staples and Managed IT Services

In some ways, the move represents a lower-risk move into the managed IT services market -- an area where Staples has previously experimented with mixed results.

The company in 2007 acquired Thrive Networks, an MSP that had momentum in the New England at the time. The were even rumors involving a potential RMM (remote monitoring and management) buyout in the 2013 timeframe or so. But Staples never really figured out how to unlock Thrive's full potential. By 2014, Mitel acquired the Thrive Networks business from Staples for an undisclosed sum.

Fast forward to present day, and Staples is making multiple moves to compete more effectively against Amazon and other online retailers. The company in December 2015 announced a price match guarantee for business customers. And by 2016, Staples launched a midmarket push for business and IT services -- with a particular focus on customers with up to 200 employees. But the biggest potential move of all -- a merger with Office Depot -- didn't pan out amid regulatory and competitive concerns.

Staples is expected to announce Q3 2016 results on Nov, 16, 2016. For its Q2 ended July 30, sales were $4.8 billion -- down 4 percent compared to Q2 2015. And the company had a net loss of $766 million.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.