Office Depot on Wednesday announced that it has been certified as an installation partner for Google and Nest smart home devices for homes and offices.
The designation, which is being branded as part of the retailer's "Workonomy" tech services through its CompuCom subsidiary, means that Office Depot not only sells devices like Google Home Minis and Nest cameras and thermostats, but also will install and connect them to customers' smart home systems, according to a company press release.
Google is providing Office Depot's tech experts with training, tools and live VIP support, the company said. The new services, which start with a free one-hour, on-site consultation, are priced starting at $99, with a $20 discount offered this month.
Office Depot, in a strategy that resembles Best Buy's, continues to move beyond strict retail, developing services mostly aimed at small and medium-sized businesses.
The company's "Workonomy" platform and its subscription BizBox services are enabled by last year's CompuCom acquisition, and more recently it launched a Workonomy coworking pilot. Last month CEO Gerry Smith sought to minimize what he called disappointing third quarter results from the IT unit, saying the company is already taking steps to improve profitability.
Indeed, it's a logical pivot. The company's services revenue in that quarter rose 28% within its business division and 11% in its retail division, as product sales declined 7% and store comps fell 5%. The troubles at CompuCom didn't prevent the company from raising its guidance for the year, and investors have also mostly shrugged as well.
While retail has somewhat receded for Office Depot and rival Staples, that decline is ebbing, and the Google tie-up could help the retailer regain customers as they amass more tech and require assistance setting it up and maintaining it. "Improving sales trends in the Business Solutions Division has more than offset continued declines in the retail segment and the pace of decline in the retail segment is decelerating," Moody's analyst Peggy Holloway said in a statement emailed to Retail Dive last month.
That could be a challenge to Best Buy, though that retailer has built formidable capacity in that space through its Geek Squad services. "Geek Squad worked for Best Buy," Erik Gordon, professor at University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, told Retail Dive in an email. "Installing Nests is consistent with Office Depot's move away from just being a store and deliverer of office supplies to being a provider of services to businesses. You can make only so much money pushing discounted cases of copy paper."