April 1, 2020
Dear BOC Members and Colleagues,
- We are sharing this FAQ from Staples regarding Covid-19 and high-demand items. (See below, or download the PDF).
- Staples has also let us know that they have good pricing on Chromebooks that are suitable for videoconferencing and distance learning.
- UPDATE: We’ve been informed that Chromebooks are no longer in stock. Please contact Staples for the most up-to-date availability.
We at The Back Office Cooperative are committed to keeping you informed and to helping you access the tools and supplies you and your communities rely on. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions by replying directly to this email.
CEO, The Back Office Cooperative
3/30/20 COVID-19 FAQs
Current answers to your questions as of 3/30/20
With the global outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), is Staples experiencing any disruption to the products and services they offer me or my organization?
Yes, Staples is experiencing unprecedented demand in certain categories, such as hand sanitizer, N95 masks, gloves, disinfectants, toilet paper, paper towels, and facial tissue. For these impacted categories, we are working diligently with our suppliers to return to a stable inventory position as soon as possible and will use this communication vehicle to update status. Most other categories are in stock and available to purchase.
What is Staples doing to manage the impact on customer orders?
Our merchandising, sourcing, supply chain and support teams across the company are taking proactive measures to maintain the highest levels of support for our customers, which includes:
Leveraging our scale and relationships with key suppliers to maintain the best stocking positions for products based on availability
increasing our safety stock levels on imported business essential products and preparedness items where supply remains unconstrained
Making sure we have alternatives for products that could be impacted across the market
Strategically shifting our sourcing of our new Product Brands to ensure the best possible supply
Monitoring our suppliers daily to ensure we can proactively address/communicate disruption if/when appropriate
How is Staples allocating supply of heavily constrained ’essential needs’ products like hand sanitizer, N95 masks, gloves and disinfectants?
Our primary objective is to serve our customers who are on the front lines combatting the spread of COVID-19 or who are the most at risk of being severely impacted by the virus. These groups would include customers like hospitals, first responders, and long-term care facilities (“Health Care”). Using this as our guiding principle, we are taking the following actions:
Our sites will be continuously refreshed to reflect product status. Skus that we believe we could fulfill within a reasonable timeframe will show as “Backordered” with our best estimate of the date when we will be able to deliver; skus that we believe we cannot fulfill within a reasonable timeframe will show as only ‘out of stock.’ In some specific cases where demand has been extraordinary, we have removed these skus from our sites temporarily. Please note that this does not imply that Staples will no longer carry these skus going forward.
For “essential needs” products: All customers will see the following message for high demand products, “Inventory for select items is reserved for first responders and healthcare providers.” Starting 3/25, Health Care customers will be able to place new back orders for ‘essential needs products.’ All other customers will not be able to place back orders. See below for more detail.
For Health Care customers:
We will fulfill current back orders from Health Care customers as soon as inventory is received
If a frontline Health Care/Official First Responder customer received a cancelation notice on a back order in error, we will follow a pre-defined internal process to assess adding the customer to the priority “Health Care” list and update our systems accordingly
All requests will be reviewed as they come in and could possibly be denied
If an account prioritization request is accepted, the Health Care customer will now be able to place a back order on ‘essential needs’ items o However, their prior back order will remain canceled and so the customer MUST submit a new order
Health Care customers will be able to place new back orders starting Wednesday, March 25th.
For all other customers:
Back orders for all other customers have been canceled in order to prioritize vital supplies to Health Care and first responder organizations
We could not fulfill these orders in a reasonable timeframe while also prioritizing these frontline customers
Temporarily, customers that don’t meet the prioritization criteria should not be able to place an order.
If an error occurs and a customer is able to place an order, the order will be cancelled by the system before it is fulfilled
How will customers know if they will receive a back order they placed?
Customers will receive either an email with an order status update or a cancelation notice due to our inability to provide the products ordered in a reasonable time.
How will customers know when constrained products are again available to order?
Customers can verify their ability to back order high demand items by asking their account manager or following the below steps:
Step 1: Log in to StaplesAdvantage.com account
Step 2: Search for a high demand product (Ex. hand sanitizer, gloves, and or disinfectants)
Step 3: Go to the “Healthcare Reserved” filter on the left side of the screen and select “Yes” to narrow product listing to those still available for back order
Step 4: The product shown on the page is now only what is reserved for first responders and frontline healthcare providers
Step 5: A yellow alert will also show on the constrained product detail page with “Inventory for select items is reserved for first responders and frontline healthcare providers”
When a first responder or frontline healthcare account selects “Add to Cart” they will be able to place a backorder for the product; backorder delivery dates will be shown in cart when placing an order
If a customer is not an approved first responder or frontline healthcare account, they will see the “Add to Cart” button but when they try to order, they will receive a pop-up message indicating the item is out of stock **Answer updated on 3/30/20
Is there a way to place a Special Order on Staples Advantage?
Yes, if you are looking for hard to find items, you can place a request for a quote using the Special Order feature. Items that are displayed as out of stock or on back order, are NOT available for Special Order.
Can my organization return large order quantities if we over purchased items? We will try to accommodate returns but ask that you are mindful of the quantities you are ordering.
See here for specific details on Staples.com return policy.
See here for specific details on Staplesadvantage.com return policy.
What restrictions and guidance are currently in place related to Staples employees, contractors, or third parties that may be traveling to or from affected regions, and then returning to or visiting headquarters or operational locations?
To ensure we service our customers, we will utilize audio/video and or in person meetings when appropriate to answer questions and continue to support customer needs. In addition, we have instituted a temporary travel ban for all non-essential domestic and international business travel.
We have also communicated CDC and WHO best practice guidelines for the prevention of spreading disease, including:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
As this is a rapidly evolving situation, we are continuing to monitor closely and will update our policies as necessary to ensure adequate protective and preventative measures remain in place.
What preventative measures is Staples taking to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission and protect the health and wellness of customers?
We continue to take the guidance from the CDC and WHO and are doing regular education with our associates on best practices on healthy workplace habits. We are also encouraging associates with remote capabilities to work from home and have restricted non-essential business travel. Quarantine protocols have also been set in place and are in line with CDC and Canada Health identified warning locations and situations. Furthermore, associates have been directed to not come to work if they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
What preventative measures are delivery drivers taking?
Our drivers are taking extra precautionary measures as they are in contact with many customers, including health provider locations. The drivers are no longer capturing signatures from customers with our devices and have been provided with additional sanitizing products at their locations as available and as deemed necessary by the location. We are also complying with any and all customer requests to change normal delivery routines, such as leaving packages outside hospitals instead of desktop deliveries. As with all of our employees in the abundance of caution, we are asking our drivers not to come to work if they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
What preventive measures is Staples Supply Chain taking?
Our Supply Chain is taking extra precautionary measures and increasing the amount of cleaning in each Fulfillment Center. Main entrances, breakrooms and bathrooms are being cleaned multiple times throughout the day. All breakrooms have been stocked with cleaning supplies and tools for use by associates during their workday to operate safely. All commonly used warehouse tools/equipment are cleaned and disinfected at least daily as well. **Answer updated on 3/30/20
Will Staples associates complete company documents on COVID-19 policies and procedures that customers require of all vendors?
Due to the volume of requests for information on Staples COVID-19 policies and procedures, we have created this FAQ document and ask that customers utilize the information provided within it in lieu of requiring Staples associates to complete separate forms. Should you require information not reflected in the FAQ document, please work directly with your Staples representative for additional needs.
Where are the products Staples sells being sourced from?
As one of the largest distributors in the United States, Staples has strategic suppliers and manufacturers that may have items or components that are manufactured in the US and or globally to include China.
Is it safe to receive a package from any area where COVID-19 has been reported?
Per the World Health Organization (WHO): “Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.”
**Answer updated on 3/30/20
Does Staples’ Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity Plan include Pandemic Planning and Preparedness?
At Staples, the safety of our associates, customers, and businesses is a top priority.
Therefore, Staples has developed a Pandemic Plan in accordance with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidance. In the event of a Pandemic, our phased approach corresponds with the WHO’s guidelines, and will allow Staples to respond proactively when possible and reactively when necessary as the situation warrants.
In general, Staples’ focus of pandemic preparedness is to:
Limit the impact of an outbreak on our associates and their families
Limit the impact of an outbreak on our delivery business by maintaining essential operations and services to whatever extent possible.
In the event of a Pandemic outbreak, Staples’ Business Continuity Plan for key functional areas (Supply Chain, Customer Service, etc) serves as our procedural documents with regards to technology and systems. Our company’s Crisis Communication Plan serves as the procedural document for communication strategies during a pandemic. Warehouses comply with Emergency Response Plans that are specific to each location.
In order to limit the negative impact of a pandemic on our business, Staples’ Crisis Management Team (a cross-functional group with key team leads across the family of companies in Staples, led by the Business Continuity Manager) is responsible for making rapid decisions within the framework of our Staples Business Continuity Plans, and Staples Crisis Communication Plan.
In the case of a pandemic outbreak, Staples’ Leadership Team considers and acts on Staples issues related to:
Communications (i.e. to associates, customers, vendors, and suppliers)
Essential Function and Essential Associate assignments
Policy and Procedure execution
This team draws upon the Staples Business Continuity Plan and the Staples Crisis Communication Plan for each operating company and/or site, including an analysis of the associate, business, and social consequences resulting from a pandemic. Contacts with local authorities on pandemic issues are coordinated through the Staples Physical Security (law enforcement), HR (health) or business continuity team (emergency management agencies).
The team’s responsibilities, at a minimum, include the following:
Monitor an evolving pandemic, as it is a dynamic situation
Keep up to date with recommendations from local / national health experts, which are likely to change in different phases of the pandemic.
Ensure clear communication between associates, health practitioners, our EAP, and local authorities involved with disease control.
Reduce the chances that employees become infected, both at home and at work, by considering suitable protective measures
Staples is committed to staying current with the latest Pandemic data issued by the WHO and by national public health (US’ CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Canada’s PHAC, Public Health Agency of Canada), and our plans will be adjusted and intensified should the WHO’s Pandemic Alert be elevated or changed.
To Our BOC Members and Colleagues:
I wanted to let you know that The Back Office Cooperative is in close contact with Staples to monitor the availability and delivery of supplies related to COVID-19. Please take a moment to read below the messages from Staples‘ Chief Executive Officer and Chief Commercial Officer on this important issue and the proactive steps Staples is taking.
Know that Staples is complying with any and all customer requests to change normal delivery routines, such as leaving packages on the dock at hospitals instead of desktop deliveries. Staples is also in the process of contacting members for alternative delivery options in the short term that will work for your institution in light of COVID- 19. Staples drivers are taking extra precautionary measures as they come into contact with many of our members. The drivers have been provided with additional sanitizing products at their locations as available and as deemed necessary by the location. Staples is asking their drivers, as with all their employees in the abundance of caution, not to come to work if they are sick.
Staples is committed to staying current with the latest Pandemic data issued by the WHO and by national public health (US’ CDC, Canters for Disease Control and Prevention, and Canada’s PHAC, Public Health Agency of Canada), and there plans will be adjusted and intensified should the WHO’s Pandemic Alert be elevated or changed.
We know your organization is working hard to navigate the current landscape and keep employees and patients healthy. Staples plans to stay in close communications as we work together through this situation.
The Back Office Cooperative will continue to provide necessary updates about our programs and services as we receive them. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.
CEO, The Back Office Cooperative
March 25, 2020
Dear Valued Staples Customer,
We are reaching out to continually keep you up to date on product availability and any impacts due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). As previously communicated, for products that are in high demand, like hand sanitizer, N95 masks, gloves, and disinfectants, Staples made the decision to first serve customers who are on the front lines combatting the spread of COVID-19, like frontline hospitals, first responders, and long-term care facilities.
A few key updates:
- Starting Wednesday, March 25th, prioritized frontline healthcare and first responder customers will be able to start placing orders and back orders for the high demand items mentioned above
- Please note:
- We still have many items showing as out of stock on our website
- If a high demand item is out of stock, you will be able to back order it
- Your order will be filled when the product comes back into stock
- Large new orders from prioritized customers will be evaluated to ensure we are able to accommodate the needs of as many as possible
What you will see on the website:
All customers will see the following message for high demand products, “Inventory for select items is reserved for first responders and healthcare providers.” This messaging was added to ensure that all our customers are aware that the particular product being viewed is only available for frontline healthcare provider and first responder customers.
We appreciate your partnership as we all navigate these unprecedented times together.
Chief Commercial Officer
Dear Valued Staples Customer,
I want to reach out with an update on what we’re doing to support you as our global community navigates the personal and business implications of COVID-19. Serving your needs in a safe manner is of the utmost importance to us. Here are three things we are doing to ensure you, your family, and your business have the essentials you need.
- We’ve taken proactive steps to ensure our associates and their families are protected, including providing up-to-date guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on prevention, ceasing all non-essential business travel both domestically and internationally, and putting new policies in place to ensure sick team members remain home. For our delivery drivers especially, we’ve established new measures to keep drivers and customers safe. These measures include arming drivers with sanitizing products, easing desktop drops when requested, and no longer requiring customers to sign for deliveries.
- Until further notice, we will provide free delivery on all orders and no minimum order size requirement. This will give you and your colleagues the ability to get the products you need, when and where you need them. It goes without saying that larger bundled orders help us deliver value and reliable service and are also better for the environment. So please continue to consolidate orders where possible, as we strive to meet the needs of the maximum number of customers.
- We’re doing everything possible to help you act on the preventative measures advised by the CDC. We’ve seen unprecedented demand for many products, especially hand sanitizer, N95 masks, gloves, and disinfectants. To get you the products you need in a reasonable timeframe, we are urgently partnering with our suppliers to replenish our inventory and to provide you with alternatives. In the immediate term and for the greater good of our communities, we’ve prioritized our customers who are on the front lines combatting the spread of COVID-19, including hospitals, first responders and long-term care facilities. We recognize the needs of all our customers are important and will refresh our sites and products as soon as possible so that these products will be made available to all.
Relying on the expertise of the CDC and local health officials across the country, we are committed to sharing information as soon as we have it to protect the health and wellbeing of our customers and associates. At the heart of our core values is you, and the Staples team members who serve you, and we are here to support your needs in every way possible.
Chief Executive Officer, Staples, Inc.
Dear Valued Staples Customer,
We know your company is working hard to navigate the current landscape and keep employees and customers healthy, so I am reaching out to keep you up to date on product availability related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
This past week has seen a spike in demand for certain cleaning and paper products as well as hand sanitizers. In addition, some products may be impacted by manufacturing delays.
Please know our teams are working around the clock, closely monitoring our supply chain, partnering with our key suppliers and actively sourcing alternatives.
If items are backordered, we will mark them clearly on our website at checkout. As they come back in stock, we will refresh the site to show you they are available. Existing backorders will ship when available unless you cancel your order.
We plan to stay in close communications as we work together through this situation. I thank you sincerely for your partnership and your patience.
Chief Commercial Officer, Staples, Inc.