Voice of Experience: Lisa Hamblet, Staples

By Kim S. Nash  |  Posted 2002-05-15 Print this article Print

Staples' vice president of business-to-business e-commerce talks about her company's efforts to convince customers to consolidate supplies purchases into a single Web-based system.

Lisa Hamblet
VP, Business-to-Business E-commerce
Framingham, Mass.

Manager's Profile: Prior to joining $10.7 billion Staples in 1990, Hamblet was a financial analyst at computer hardware company Data General. She has a BBA from the University of Massachusetts and an MBA from Bentley College.

Her Responsibility: Hamblet sets strategy for stapleslink.com, a business-to-business Web site where medium and large size companies buy office supplies online from Staples.

Her Big Push: Staples wants companies to consolidate the purchase of paper clips, printer ink, and the like at stapleslink.com. By collapsing purchasing into a single Web-based system, companies can more easily buy in bulk and save money. Traditionally, many companies buy office supplies department by department, from different suppliers, using all manner of methods—phone, fax, mail, Internet.

Technology Details: Staples built the site largely in-house two years ago, but can connect with companies that use various online procurement applications, including software from Ariba and Commerce One. So far, 140 firms have signed up to use stapleslink.com.

Her Advice: Insist that your company's top managers require purchasing staff to use the centralized online system for buying equipment and supplies. Return on investment doesn't happen when people continue to buy the old way from old suppliers.

Her Wish: Standards.

Why Standards are Important: Electronic data interchange (EDI) applications, the precursors to online procurement, relied on strict standards for, say, data definitions and transmission protocols. That meant buyers and sellers could communicate easily. "But when these new applications came out, vendors were actually customizing individual fields for each customer," Hamblet says. That has stopped, but there are still no formal standards, she says, which is slowing e-procurement adoption.

Senior Writer
Kim has covered the business of technology for 14 years, doing investigative work and writing about legal issues in the industry, including Microsoft Corp.'s antitrust trial. She has won numerous awards and has a B.S. degree in journalism from Boston University.

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