Office Depot announced that it’s working with Elementum, a firm that provides cloud-based applications to help companies manage global supply chains, to enhance its ability to deliver products and services faster and at scale across its omnichannel operations, according to a press release.
According to Elementum, its apps will give Office Depot cloud-based collaboration capabilities and visibility across every segment of the retailer’s business operations, including procurement, logistics, manufacturing, and inventory management.
Office Depot executives will also have access to Elementum’s Situation Room, a central dashboard from which they will be able to see and manage production, shipping and inventory based on data aggregated from all of the Elementum apps they have in place, the press release stated.
After the planned Staples-Office Depot merger fell apart in March 2016, neither company appeared to have great prospects. Yet, from the start of 2017, Office Depot has attacked its comeback agenda as a company determined to succeed on its own terms.
That effort started with the hiring of a new CEO, Gerry Smith, in February, and continued with Smith's later changes to senior management. But Office Depot's efforts have not been just an exercise in shuffling around the C-suite. The company in June also launched a new brand marketing campaign on the theme "Taking Care of Business" (Good luck trying to get the Bachman-Turner Overdrive song out of your head the rest of the day).
In addition, Office Depot upgraded its loyalty program, adding many new benefits, and last month announced it would start offering same-day delivery in a handful of cities through Deliv. These may seem like obvious steps for a struggling retailer to take, and they don't exactly count as innovations, but at the very least the office supplies retailer is executing quickly on changes it needs to make to become competitive again.
Using Elementum's offerings should bring about more positive customer-facing changes. Elementum's apps claim to help retailers shrink lead times and ensure material availability, as well as adjust to issues in real time to deliver on-time and prevent stockouts. All of this means that Office Depot will at least have the table stakes to compete with retailers that have already invested in state-of-the-art supply chain operations.
How much of a difference will this new technology make at Office Depot? Cost-cutting measures, taken since the failed Staples merger, appeared to be having some positive effects earlier this year, but new entrants in the business-to-business market, including Amazon, BJ's Wholesale Club and others, are posing new hurdles for an independent operator like Office Depot. A lot more needs to happen to make Office Depot more competitive, but the capabilities that Elementum brings are a step in the right direction.