*NEWS*CAN OFFICEMAX SAVE THE CHAIN ?

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*NEWS*CAN OFFICEMAX SAVE THE CHAIN ?

 user 2005-12-08 at 10:59:00 am Views: 79
  • #13580

    Can OfficeMax’s New Prototype Design Save the Chain?
    December , 2005
    In
    what may be the beginning of a miraculous turnaround, or the last gasp
    of a struggling retailer, OfficeMax introduced a new store design, the
    OfficeMax Advantage, which melds Starbucks and Whole Foods. The
    retailer is counting on free gourmet coffee, WiFi access, and bulk bins
    to generate excitement and pull the office products superstore back
    into the black. The first prototype opened in Macedonia, Ohio. New
    stores, using this format, will open across the country, and elements
    of this design will be incorporated into existing stores.
    In
    describing the new prototype store, senior management is using all the
    right words: engaging environment, solution selling, customer-centric
    approach, fun, resource (rather than warehouse), and boutique feel.
    Below is a photo of the central technology hub in the new store, which
    is attractive, but not much different than displays at Office Depot and
    Staples. The peg board and metal shelves with gray carpeting could be
    in any store. This printer department in the foreground doesn’t appear
    any more engaging or fun than competitors’ planograms.
    The
    technology hub is designed to allow customers to try out the
    electronics. To compete and win in a very crowded retail landscape that
    includes not only the other two office superstores but giants such as
    Best Buy and Wal-Mart, Office Depot will need to create a superior
    customer experience. The merchandising layout must go a step beyond
    engaging and be able to demonstrate a compelling electronics solution
    for shoppers. The retailer will need to ensure the display models are
    fully functional at all times. Are the batteries charged and memory
    cards available for shoppers to take digital photos? Can the cameras be
    connected to printers to show the ease of photo printing? Can shoppers
    try out the laptops on display? Do all the printers have ink and paper
    available to create print samples? This type of in-store execution, on
    top of trained salespeople, will help OfficeMax stand out from the
    crowd. All retailers aspire to this level of customer service, but none
    are totally successful on the sales floor. OfficeMax must go above and
    beyond what is offered at other retailers to draw and keep customers.
    The
    OfficeMax café offers free individually brewed cups of coffee and WiFi
    connections, but the area doesn’t look much more inviting than a
    doctor’s waiting room. With some work, this area of the store could
    become a jewel, drawing business customers with networking seminars,
    digital imaging classes, brochure design tutorials, and events that
    support SOHO users. More comfortable seating would further encourage
    shoppers to take advantage of the area.
    Bulk bins score high on the
    scale in terms of cuteness and fun, but the selection of bulk office
    products is very limited. Customers can fill their pre-priced boxes
    with a mix of paper clips, glue sticks, pens, rubber bands, notepads,
    and erasers. The design would lend itself well to a variety of product
    choices, particularly OfficeMax-brand photo papers. The retailer could
    sell them by the sheet, pricing the mid-grade 4”x6” paper at $0.10 and
    the 8×5”x11” sheet at $0.20. It would be great to let customers mix and
    match satin and glossy finishes. The piecemeal system would
    differentiate OfficeMax from its competitors and alleviate the need to
    stock half a dozen packs with different sheet counts in each finish.
    One
    area of the store that could draw traffic is the OfficeMax Ink, Filling
    Station. The ink cartridge refill station reduces the price of a
    cartridge of ink by 30% to 50% and is much cleaner than at-home
    refilling options. The in-store kiosk assesses the cartridge to be
    refilled, injects the appropriate ink, then runs a print test. The
    service is certainly a differentiator for OfficeMax.
    The new design
    is a step in the right direction, but it is not far enough outside the
    box to compete with the dominant two office product superstores. Some
    good ideas, such as the café and bulk bins, need to be taken to the
    next level, beyond metal chairs, paper clips, and pens. OfficeMax
    should bring in comfortable chairs, furnish a larger work table,
    sponsor workshops, and provide more items in the bulk bins. Further,
    the technology hub needs to showcase working solutions.
    One example
    of a prototype store that succeeds in being different is RadioShack’s
    StoreOne. Its products are showcased as working solutions in a
    home-like environment that allows customers to visualize the technology
    in an everyday setting. StoreOne is engaging and fun, although it is
    not intended to be duplicated in its entirety in standard retail
    locations.
    I applaud OfficeMax for rethinking the office products
    superstore concept, but it should go all the way and commit to being
    different throughout the store. Ditch the pegboard and gray metal
    shelves and utilize the boutique look RadioShack showcased in its
    StoreOne. OfficeMax doesn’t have much to lose, so it should take more
    chances with its redesign. If it reinvents the office products shopping
    experience, it may generate enough excitement to stay alive