Staples may be the next major retailer to offer Apple products, according to a tweet by Erin LaFlamme, a Strategic Account manager for Staples. Precisely what Apple products and when Staples will offer them are unknowns, but the company will join a select group of major retail outlets to provide Apple-branded hardware, namely Target, Walmart, Best Buy and "The Shack" (the artist formerly known as RadioShack).
Most national retailers only sell Apple's portable offerings: iPods and, in some cases, iPhones and iPads. Best Buy is perhaps the best (and only) example of a national brick-n-mortar outlet who offers a full range of Apple products, including iMacs, MacBooks, iPhones, iPods, Apple TVs and so on. Whether or not Staples will have a full range of products or just a limited selection of Apple portables remains a question mark.
All of this talk about Apple and retailers also reminded me of this following bit of history; Before Apple's successful chain of self-branded retail stores, CompUSA was possibly the only national retail source for Apple products following their 1997 partnership. A decade later though, CompUSA run into some major financial hurdles, prompting the closure of its physical retail operations.
Earlier this year, we mentioned how Apple maintains its consistent prices throughout its retail channels. Because of Apple's carrot-and-stick approach, it's unlikely even a loss-leader-wielding store like Staples will fall out of line with its competitors. This is one case where increased availability doesn't necessarily lead to competitive pricing.
Despite Apple's designer appeal and high grossing prices, Best Buy said that selling Cupertino's products isn't without risk, citing "relatively low margins" as a contributing factor to last year's hardships.