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Office Depot pushes mcommerce’s buttons with Apple Watch app

Office Depot’s new Apple Watch application offers voice-activated search and an ink-and-toner finder, suggesting that even the office supplies sector needs smartwatch apps to maximize mcommerce potential.

Office Depot aims to provide an even better mobile shopping experience for its consumers by tapping some of its online site’s popular features and integrating them into the smartwatch app. Owners of the Apple Watch will now be able to locate deals, shop for items, reorder ink and toner and receive directions to a local store right from their wrists.

“When we surveyed the landscape of Apple Watch apps, we saw an opportunity to create something that would differentiate Office Depot from other multi-channel retailers, and more importantly, create something convenient that would resonate with our technology-minded customers,” said Kevin Moffitt, vice president of ecommerce strategy at Office Depot, Inc., Boca Raton, FL.

“The wearables landscape is still wide open in terms of understanding the needs of users, so our guiding principle in designing the app was to embrace the glance-able moment aspect of the medium, and create something for our customers that is quick and convenient,” he said.

“Conventional thinking around the wearable and smart watch landscape is that they will ultimately become the remote control for our daily lives. The Office Depot app meets that end by allowing users to shop our entire online assortment, navigate to their nearest store, access exclusive offers, or manage their ink and toner, right from their wrist.”

Driving revenue
The ability to easily purchase products directly from the wearable device suggests that some consumers may be fueled to complete more impulse purchases. Another possible source of revenue could come from the fact that users will order from Office Depot due to the sheer convenience, thereby preventing them from going to a competitor.

The voice-activated product search enables guests to search for any product in the brand’s inventory by speaking into their smartwatch. After an item is selected, it may be seamlessly added into the user’s shopping cart and purchased within the Office Depot iPhone app.

Consumers can also check ink levels for their HP printers via the Wi-Fi, as well as find compatible ink and toner cartridges and order more within the app.

Those who prefer to shop in-store may take advantage of the smartwatch app’s store locator.

Lastly, the Office Depot Apple Watch app will offer a daily deal to users each day, which provides enough incentive for many to spur downloads.

“Winning in mobile is important to any retailer,” Mr. Moffitt said. “There is no question that the migration from desktop to mobile is not a passing trend, and will only continue.

“To be successful, multi-channel retailers must meet the needs of customers, no matter where they interact with the brand,” he said.

“What is unique about mobile is that it bridges the offline and online world so strategy must meet the needs of users whether they are in the store or shopping from the convenience of their home or office. The Apple Watch and other wearables are a natural extension of this migration and creates some interesting new opportunities while interacting with your customers.”

The app surge
Office Depot’s move into wearables is likely a smart move, as a new study from the International Data Corporation reveals the number of third-party smartwatch apps is expected to rise from 2,500 at the end of 2014 to approximately 349,000 in 2019.

In the Worldwide Wearable Applications Forecast, 2015-2019 study, the IDC believes the Apple Watch may capture up to two-thirds of the wearable market in 2015, which throws significant weight behind the marketers who have already introduced their Apple Watch apps.

App developers in consumer-oriented fields, including retail, will need to hone in on intelligent service delivery as well as experiences that tap the human factor improvements offered by smart devices.

A large opportunity for enterprise-oriented apps is also present, according to the IDC. Wearables are here to stay, and marketers seeking to boost sales would be foolish not to take advantage of a type of technology that is essentially omnipresent for consumers.

Office Depot’s foray into smartwatches will likely offer it a leg up as it works to improve its mobile strategy and mcommerce offerings.

This past April, Staples and Office Depot doubled down on efforts to put mobile at the center of their omnichannel success with app updates that brought new-found flexibility to loyalty-point redemptions and order fulfillment (see story).

“Customers in the supplies vertical are no different than other customers in the sense that time is a precious commodity,” Mr. Moffitt said. “Office Depot has embraced the glance-able moment provided by the Apple Watch and is committed to making the customer journey as convenient as possible.

“We recognize that customer loyalty is about more than just offers and coupons. If we provide value to our customers in the form of time by creating a seamless shopping experience through any mobile medium, our customers will continue to look to us as a leader in our industry.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York