How personalized content is used by Staples Canada

Illustrated graphic of fingerprints on cards, meaning a perosnalized customer journey
January 27, 2022


What’s better than a powerful content solution that resolves all your legacy CMS headaches? A content platform that extends beyond content creation, publication and management to give teams the tools they need to build robust digital experiences.

Replatforming is a big decision and it can be hard to get it right. Our 2020 CMS user survey found that 45% of new CMS systems disappoint right out of the box. This is due in part to rapidly changing business requirements. The capabilities you need today might not be enough a few months from now. That can make a content solution that takes months to implement out of date before you even get started.

This is where extensible platforms, like Contentful, shine. We make it easy to start with a single project or business challenge, while laying the foundation for future initiatives across the business, such as optimization, automation, localization and personalization.

This is exactly what Staples Canada experienced on its Contentful journey. Here to share that story is Dron Sharma, Senior Product Manager at Staples Canada.

Staples Canada needed a robust content solution for ecommerce that could scale across the organization

Staples Canada is the largest retailer for office supplies in Canada and has expanded to offer a variety of business solutions. What many people don’t know is that Staples Canada is a proud Canadian company which is independently run. It became independent from its US-based parent company in 2019.

The team knew they needed to replatform. The decisions they made were the first steps on what would be a very successful journey.  First, they decided to use a Shopify-based ecommerce platform and began looking for a robust content engine to go with it.

The immediate requirements were the ability to integrate with Shopify and more flexibility and control over content publishing. Thinking about future needs, they also wanted the ability to scale across the business after the initial ecommerce implementation.

This led them to Contentful’s extensible content platform. It checked all the boxes. 

Once we implemented Contentful, our internal customers absolutely loved it for the ease, agility, and flexibility that the solution provided. Not only were internal users happy, the new platform delivered a much better customer experience, increased traffic and enabled Staples Canada to tap into new markets. This contributed to a very successful back-to-school and holiday season. 

The ecommerce platform was Staples Canada's first big win with Contentful. The team rapidly followed this with a second win: scaling Contentful across other parts of the website. 

I talk more about how Staples Canada achieved these successes in this webinar. But for now, I want to focus on what came next.

We were able to extend Contentful to the next challenge: Personalization

Parallel to these efforts, I was dealing with the challenge of content personalization. How could we deliver richer, more relevant experiences that would engage, retain and convert more customers?

To my surprise, the answer was Contentful. Thanks to the platform's flexibility, we were able to extend beyond content creation and publishing, to include something that wasn’t in the initial requirements: Personalization.

How we used Contentful to personalize content without a personalization engine

Personalization can be one-on-one or segmented. One-on-one personalization focuses on understanding individual preferences or previous buying or purchase journeys. Segmented or category personalization focuses on tailoring content for similar cohorts or groups of customers that we can identify. 

Both have their benefits, but we chose to implement a segmented personalization strategy first. One of the most exciting parts of this was that with Contentful, we could implement this strategy without a personalization engine.

Start personalization by understanding the “why” 

While there’s plenty of research to support personalization, it’s important to think about why you want to personalize content for your specific business and audience. At Staples, we used these four questions to better understand the scope, different avenues we could pursue and what data and technology we would need to achieve the results we wanted.

  • Which parts and where should personalization occur in the user experience and along the customer journey?

  • What information will be used?

  • What are the major goals that personalization needs to fulfill?

  • How will we use technology and human insight to create this personalization?

Use data to determine what to personalize

With these questions in mind, we tapped into our data to determine what content to personalize. This included attribution data, data around categories, purchase frequency, spend, average order value, so on and so forth. With this data in hand, we could better understand the segments and personas and define our personalization strategy. 

The results: CTR increased 51%

I’ll share an example of the results. We created different homepage banners for two sets of customers. Default customers see the image on the left, while those who are logged in as a business customer will see the image on the right. The version on the right includes curated content based on the user segment.

A screenshot of the Dron Sharma talk, showing an example of personalization on the Staples Canada website

On the backend, data is imported into Shopify and then flows into Contentful where the content is filtered based on the particular customer segment.

This single use case increased click-through rate on the homepage banners for business customers by as much as 51%. 

Achieving these results without a personalization engine highlights the value Contentful provides through its ease of use, flexibility and extensibility. What started as a content engine for our ecommerce platform has laid the foundation for exciting future initiatives.

Join me in this 20-minute webinar to learn more about how Staples Canada is using Contentful.

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