Staples exec on building up $22B retailers’ digital muscles

staples-masudWhen he joined Staples as its Executive Vice President of Global E-Commerce in 2013, Faisal Masud was surprised how much of its technology development the $22 billion office supplies retailer outsourced. Since then, he has embarked on a campaign to build up the company’s digital muscles — both through attracting new talent and by acquiring small startups. The acquisitions have enabled Staples to create a network of innovation and software development labs around the U.S. and Canada with their own distinct culture.

Masud’s bottom-line objective, he says, is to provide a world-class experience for Staples customers across all platforms – whether they’re using a mobile device or they’re in a store.

Bringing in what had been outsourced

“We’re building a lot of our own mobile apps, a recommendations engine, [and focusing on] automating and personalizing emails and search” so that they are more relevant to shoppers, explains Masud, a veteran of, eBay, and Groupon. “A lot of those components are being brought back in, where before they were completely outsourced,” Masud says. “We’ve made three acquisitions in the last two years, all three [of them] technology acquisitions that Staples never had in the past.”

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