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How A Headless Commerce Solution Saved Staples Canada Time And Money



For Simon Rodrigue, Chief Digital Officer with Staples Canada, there is only one way to build a winning commerce solution. Whether you call it “modular” or “best-of-breed” it refers to hand picking the best providers for each individual component of your business stack, rather than relying on one platform for everything. 

This was the mindset Rordrigue and his team had when undergoing the digital transformation with Staples Canada that would position them as an enterprise leader in Canadian retail and ecommerce. 

“For us, it really was about how do we find all of these key partners that we believe are best-of-breed,” said Rodrigue, speaking to Jay Myers on Bold Commerce’s Own Your Commerce podcast. 

A headless commerce architecture, powered by API technology, enabled Staples Canada to go this route. By decoupling their frontend (customer facing layers) from their backend business processes, the freedom to pick and choose different pieces and build a flexible tech stack became a reality. 

Algolia for search, Bizarre Voice for reviews, Segment to handle our data layer, and many more,” said Rodrigue, mentioning a few of the key partners that they work with together to orchestrate the powerful stack that allows them to grow and evolve. 

The headless approach allowed Staples Canada to solve all their business problems while building the best solution possible — for a fraction of the time and price. 

How Staples Canada arrived at headless

Staples Canada has long been the destination for Canadians stocking up on back-to-school and home office supplies. With 305 retail locations across Canada and a growing presence online, an acquisition in 2018 brought in a new strategic direction and the need for massive digital transformation. The results has been one of the most dynamic Canadian ecommerce success stories in recent years.

Read the full case study here.

Even before COVID-19, Staples Canada anticipated the rapidly evolving ecommerce landscape and knew they would need a solution they could build on, pivoting to meet new consumer demands. 

“Our legacy system was a fantastic website,” said Rodrgiue, “but it wasn’t something we could innovate on.” 

With their headless commerce solution up and running, they are now able to integrate the latest technologies and trends as they arise, creating commerce-enabled experiences that meet their customers where they already are — mobile devices, social media, voice commerce, and any new technology the future of commerce brings. 

But Staples innovative approach goes beyond opting for the best microservices and capabilities of today — it’s also about future-proofing business for tomorrow. Building within a headless architecture, powered by APIs, gives Staples Canada the freedom to swap one module, or piece of the stack, out for another as the need arises. According to Rodrigue, and others who have embraced this modular approach, it’s the future of digital commerce. 

Putting headless to the test: from Black Friday Cyber Monday to a global pandemic

The first major test for their digital solution would be how it performed during Black Friday Cyber Monday 2019, typically their highest volume weekend of the year. The result was a huge success for Staples Canada and all the partners contributing to their tech stack. Some highlights included:

  • Highest traffic ever recorded in a single day
  • 100% reliability and zero downtime
  • Record high revenue for Staples.ca in a single day

Read the full case study.

Their new solution had passed their first major test. Little did any of us know what was around the corner: a global pandemic that would be a major paradigm shift in consumer behavior and a true pivot point in the global economy.

Staples Canada rose to the challenge, making sure Canadians could get the work and learning supplies they needed. Building on an already strong BOPIS (buy-online-pickup-in-store) offering, the enterprise integrated curbside pickup in just 72 hours to meet the demands of customers trying to safely procure the supplies they needed. As the sales volumes soared during the early days of COVID-19, their new solution was truly put to the test. 

Rodrigue estimated they experienced the equivalent of “50 Black Friday’s in a row” in terms of sales volume during March and April of 2020. Staples Canada’s new commerce stack had no issues handling the sustained increases in traffic. The robustness of their new headless commerce stack continues to hold steady as they achieve new growth milestones. 

Learn more about how Simon Rodrigue helped Staples Canada leveraged a best-of-breed “modular” approach to complete their digital transformation in a fraction of the time, and money — hosted by Jay Meyers, co-founder, Bold Commerce

Special thanks to our friends at Bold Commerce for their insights on this topic.

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