*NEWS*CAN OFFICEMAX SAVE THE CHAIN ?
*NEWS*CAN OFFICEMAX SAVE THE CHAIN ?
2005-12-08 at 10:59:00 am #13580
Can OfficeMax’s New Prototype Design Save the Chain?
December , 2005
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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