The Amazon Effect: Staples To Close 225 Stores, Says It’s Now Making Half Of All Sales Online

The Amazon effect continues to be felt among the brick-and-mortar faithful. Today, office supply superstore Staples announced that it would close 225 stores by 2015, some 10% of its worldwide footprint, as it continues to move more of is business online — now half of its total sales. The news came out in the company’s Q4 and full-year earnings, which noted full years sales figures of $23.1 billion for 2013 — working out to $11.5 billion in online sales for the year.

A bullish push into online to compete better against Amazon is not the full story, however. Overall sales at Staples were down 13% for the quarter and 5.2% for the full year, partly impacted by 46 stores closing in 2013, the company said. It’s part of a bigger trend of stores selling electronics and other goods continue to feel the pinch. Just yesterday, Radio Shack announced 1,100 stores closing.

“A year ago, we announced a plan to fundamentally reinvent our company,” said Ron Sargent, Staples’ chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement. “With nearly half of our sales generated online today, we’re meeting the changing needs of business customers and taking aggressive action to reduce costs and improve efficiency.”

Staples may not be the first retail name when you think of for e-commerce or technology, but as companies like Amazon and Walmart encroach further into its territory, it has been working to change that.

The company says it sells some 500,000 products online now, compared to 100,000 a year ago. And last year, it acquired Runa, a specialist in e-commerce personalisation technology, to help enhance the customer experience on its platform.

San Mateo-based Runa was Staples’ first acquisition in Silicon Valley, and became the basis for a new Staples Lab, part of the company’s R&D network with additional locations in Seattle and Cambridge.

The company has made other headway into improving profile as a purveyor of new and shiny things. Yes, it sells 3D printers and other gadgets, but it also has developed its own Staples Connect hub in partnership with smart home tech company Zonoff: this is a device, powered by Linksys, that lets consumers connect “smart” products in their home and control them via a single app.

Staples has butted heads with Amazon in the past year — teaming up with Radio Shack in deciding to remove Amazon lockers from their retail stores, after a year-long trial hosting them. More recently, Staples’ co-founder Thomas Stemberg has been speaking out about how companies like his could fight back better specifically against the online behemoth.