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Office Depot considers in-store role for smart watches

SAN ANTONIO, TX ? As an example of how mobile shopping could be simplified, an Office Depot executive at eTail West 2014 showed a video depicting an in-store shopper using a smart watch to scan a QR code and trigger a gift card that can be redeemed on the spot.

The ?Beyond the Numbers: Embracing Customer Centricity in a Big Data World? keynote gave attendees a look at how Office Depot is tweaking its mobile and digital strategy based on consumer feedback and input. While Office Depot is not currently building the smart watch solution that was demoed, the executive stressed how mobile shopping needs to be easier than desktop.

?We?ve invested heavily in making sure our mobile channels are as simple to use as our desktop channels, so all of our mobile sites and apps have been updated and enhanced significantly in the year ? again, focused on simplicity,? said Kevin Moffitt, vice president of ecommerce strategy at Office Depot, Boca Raton, FL.

?[We?re] really trying to find ways to make the mobile experience as simple as desktop,? he said. ?In fact, in some ways, maybe even easier to use than desktop because the focus is on a very small amount of real estate and very specific behaviors.?

Equipping in-store information
At the same time that Office Depot is aiming to improve the mobile shopping experience, the brand is also using the medium to improve the in-store experience.

Office Depot uses geolocation to turn its mobile app into an in-store mode that brings up specialized information and promotions for each store. Additionally, consumers can scan products and QR codes in-store.

Mobile also plays an important role in the company?s employee-facing efforts, too.

Office Depot rolled out mobile point-of-sale last year to take advantage of the fact that the bulk of retail sales are made in stores with an in-store pickup program.

According to Mr. Moffitt, the main purpose behind rolling out the technology is to put the employees on an equal playing field to shoppers who are already researching their purchase via digital before coming into stores.

In addition to helping with sales, the mobile POS serves as a training device for employees.

Personalization is key
Outside of mobile, Office Depot has also seen that personalization is key to a bigger digital strategy.

For example, personalized emails perform 700 percent better than generic emails for Office Depot, and click-through rates jump when consumers are served personalized products on the company?s Web site.

Office Depot rolled out a new Web site in the past 18 months. What is interesting about the brand?s Web approach is that Office Depot steadily rolled out a small change each month instead of rolling out the entire site at once.

Now, the homepage looks less cluttered with simple calls-to-action. As a result of the revamp, customer satisfaction scores and conversion rates have increased.

In addition to the homepage, Office Depot has also concentrated on the fly-out navigation on its site.

Again, the brand implemented one change to the section each month for six months and was designed with fonts and navigation specifically designed for tablets.

?It was redundant, a little bit cluttered ? we moved away from that to a much more visual design [that is] easy to navigate, particularly on tablets, and we?ve seen good results,? Mr. Moffitt said.

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