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Office Depot expands mobile strategy with commerce-enabled app

As part of its “Office Depot Anywhere” strategy, Office Depot has rolled out an application for iPhone and Android devices that lets users browse and purchase products. 

The app creates a mobile shopping cart that follows the user across multiple devices. For example, customers shopping might get interrupted and not complete their order. Upon opening the Office Depot mobile app on their smartphone, they will see that their shopping cart has followed them. 

“We’re finding customers are using mobility more and more to assist in the product research, comparison pricing, and buying process at retail,” said Barry Litwin, vice president of ecommerce at Office Depot, Boca Raton, FL.   

“This shift has been occurring for some time, but is becoming more significant as the growth and sophistication of smartphone devices and tablets continue to penetrate the market,” he said.  

Office Depot apps
Within the new mobile applications, customers can browse and buy products directly from their mobile phone. 

To help influence purchase intent, the application gives users access to product reviews. There is also a store locator included to guide consumers to the nearest Office Depot. 

Additionally, app users can access their order history, track their shipment and scan a product bar code in-store to get detailed product descriptions, reviews and pricing. 

Consumers can check out and purchase products without being redirected to another site outside of the mobile application. 

Office Depot plans to add more mobile platforms in the future, such as the BlackBerry and Microsoft operating systems, as well as additional tablet devices. 

“The new app features a benefit that scored highly within our customer focus groups–In App Checkout,” Mr. Litwin said. “This means that a customer never has to leave the application or be redirected to another site to complete a transaction.

“Additionally, we added functionality that is truly a game changer in our industry when it comes to mobile apps, such as Office Depot Anywhere,” he said. “The latter was developed to help make our customers’ busy lives a little more manageable when it comes to the purchase of office supplies.”

The way it works is simple – for example, a customer who is shopping online for office supplies on his/her computer at work might get a sudden call and have to leave the office. 

“Instead of wasting all of that valuable time spent placing an order, when the customer picks up his or her smartphone and opens up the Office Depot application, they’ll see that their shopping cart has followed them,” Mr Litwin said.

Mobile strategy
Besides its new mobile apps, Office Depot also has a commerce-enabled mobile Web site. 

Office Depot’s mobile Web site includes a number of features such as product search, detailed product information and the ability to check nearby stores and the Office Depot Web store for availability. Users cannot purchase products directly from the mobile Web site. 

The site also features a Special Offers section that includes a number of sales categories. 

In 2007, Office Depot made its entrance into the mobile world with the launch of SMS coupons and alerts. Consumers can sign up for the alerts via the retailer’s mobile Web site or by texting the keyword OFFER to short code 33768.

“For retailers, [mobile provides] opportunities to enhance coordination of critical aspects of the multichannel business including, but not limited to product inventory, content, and pricing,” Mr. Litwin said.