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Office Depot gears up for back-to-school with mobile POS rollout

Office Depot is deploying mobile point-of-sale to all of its stores this year to make back-to-school shopping simpler for consumers.

The office supply retailer has developed its own internal mobile POS system that runs on Apple’s iPod touch devices. Office Depot is also loading its in-store and Web services with new types of technology this year.

“It’s all about improving the customer shopping experience that will make its stores and Web site more convenient and seamless to shop, especially during this busy back-to-school season,” said Christine Buscarino, vice president of customer experience at Office Depot, Boca Raton, FL.

“Our stores are busy during back to school and we realize our customers need to continue the convenience of simple checkout even during the busy back-to-school weeks,” she said.

On-the-spot help
Mobile POS will begin rolling out to Office Depot locations on July 28.

Store associates will be armed with mobile devices to help consumers find products in-store or shop online.

Some of the features in the mobile POS devices include the ability to access additional product information and availability. Additionally, employees will be able to show consumers reviews on products.

If an item is not available in-store, employees will be able to order them from Office Depot’s Web site with free shipping for consumers.

Mobile POS will also let store associates checkout consumers and process gift card orders.

As retailers continue to rely on mobile to improve the in-store experience, it is expected that mobile POS is playing a bigger role for retailers such as Office Depot.

In fact, a new report from Yankee Group forecasts that 61 percent of merchants with 500 or more employees have rolled out or plan to deploy mobile POS technology in the next year (see story).

In addition to mobile, Office Depot is using several other types of in-store technology as part of its omnichannel focus.

Office Depot is rolling out in-store pick-up for Web orders. Consumers can place an order via the retailer’s Web site and pick it up in a nearby store one hour later. Shoppers can also have a friend or family member pick the item up from a store.

Additionally, in-store touch screen kiosks and workstations are rolling out in-store to let consumers research and shop Office Depot online that can then be delivered to their homes.

In-store pick-up on Office Depot’s Web site

Mobile schooling
Office Depot is making a big push for mobile as part of its back-to-school marketing this year.

Office Depot also recently updated its iPhone app with augmented reality features as part of a product launch with musical group One Direction. The app update also rolled out an option to let consumers store their membership cards (see story).

The office supply retailer also leveraged QR codes at the beginning of this year to help consumers get organized (see story).

“Enabling our associates with mobile devices and allowing customers to use mobile devices in our stores is a core component of not only the capabilities we are creating to make our stores more convenient to shop, but is also a pillar to our omnichannel strategy,” Ms. Buscarino said.

“Our long-term mobile strategy better ties retail and the Web closer together for our customers, which is the way a lot of them expect to shop,” she said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York