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Staples App Makes Back-To-School Shopping A Snap

A new mobile service from Staples is helping parents collect their kids’ required school supplies simply by snapping a photo of the checklist.

Under the Scan My List program — an extension of the retailer’s B-to-B Easy System — a bot (or Staples associate, for hard-to-read handwritten lists) will populate shopping carts with the best available product options within 24 to 48 hours. Parents can then edit their baskets and order the items for shipping or in-store pick up where available.

The service is presently in beta test for select customers on Staples’ mobile iOS app, and is likely to be employed for applications beyond back-to-school.

Staples said its Easy System uses computer vision, artificial intelligence, crowdsourced data, and mobile interfaces to enable a chat-based experience, and to allows customers to make changes or service inquiries.

“We listened to customer feedback about their limited time for back-to-school shopping and delivered an experience utilizing the power of mobile,” said Faisal Masud, Staples’ e-commerce and customer experience executive VP. “We know parents are busy and the process of back-to-school shopping, especially if there are multiple children involved, can be time-consuming. This new experience enables us to do the hard work on behalf of our customers.”

Masud added that 10 percent of Staples’ iOS users are already interacting with the chat feature on a daily basis.

According to e-commerce solutions provider Clarus Commerce, Staples would like its app users to shop using pictures rather than text, and hopes to have the program out of beta and running full bore by next year’s back-to-school season.