● Office Depot launched an augmented reality/mobile campaign earlier this year with rock band R5 that targets millennial back-to-school shoppers with the hopes of bringing them into its stores.
The arrival of omnichannel has the retail industry drawing new battle lines in the sand. Pundits predicted e-commerce would eventually crush brick-and-mortar, with Amazon.com as the big gun and other popular pure-plays falling in line behind. Omnichannel commerce is retail's direct answer to the Amazon era. If traditional retailers can leverage their core strength — their brick-and-mortar stores — and master the integrated online and offline experience, they may indeed have the upper hand.
A 132-year-old Toronto institution is closing its last retail stores. OfficeMax Grand & Toy announced last week that all of its remaining 19 brick-and-mortar outlets across the country will shut down. The historic office supplies chain, an affiliate of global office products provider Office Depot Inc., said it will continue to do business online and through its customer service centers. "We are concentrating our efforts on ways to better serve our customers in response to their changing business needs," Simon Finch, general manager, OfficeMax Grand & Toy, said in a release.
Staples on Thursday joined its smaller rival, newly combined Office Depot Inc. and OfficeMax, in reporting disappointing sales and bottom-line earnings, adding to worries about the the future of the office supplies industry. Despite hope that the company may be able to pick up some market share from the merger disruption of its rivals, Staples’ results showed that the headwinds thrown the industry are simply too big to offset any edge it may have over its direct rival.
An off-and-on customer of OfficeMax, Mike Seay has gotten the office supply company's direct mail for years. But the mail that the grieving Lindenhurst, Ill., father said he got from OfficeMax last week was different. It was addressed to "Mike Seay, Daughter Killed in Car Crash." Strange as that sounds, the mail reached the right guy. Seay's daughter Ashley, 17, was killed in a car crash with her boyfriend last year. OfficeMax somehow knew.
The top job at a combined Office Depot and OfficeMax won't belong to Neil Austrian or Ravi Saligram, but neither office-supply company chief executive will go away empty-handed. If the merger closes as expected, each will collect millions as they exit their respective companies and a new CEO is appointed. Austrian, who is retiring from Office Depot, will get $15 million to $16 million in a "golden parachute," depending on the stock price at closing. OfficeMax's Saligram is expected to reap about $13.5 million, said Aaron Boyd, director of governance research at Equilar, an executive compensation data firm.
B-to-B commerce organizations have always operated in a complex multichannel world. Engaging customers in this world remains increasingly complicated. It requires a focus first on breaking down barriers — i.e., taking the necessary steps to minimize channel conflict with internal sales teams and outside partners and then going directly to the business buyer. For companies that can move nimbly to navigate the channel complexities and bring value directly to the business buyer, the future has never looked brighter for B-to-B online commerce.
A Federal District Court in Washington, D.C. unsealed a case against retailers accused of transshipping Chinese-made pencils to avoid antidumping duties. The four named defendants are Staples, OfficeMax, Target and Industries for the Blind. The defendants are accused of transshipment of Chinese-made pencils through third countries such as Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam by U.S. importers. The importers would knowingly buy Chinese-made pencils in those countries and claim to U.S. Customs that they originated in those countries. If guilty, the defendants are subject to three times the loss of revenue to the government and a 10 percent duty for false country of origin marking.
OfficeMax has named a new executive to lead its merchandising initiatives, including category management, strategic product planning, global sourcing, private label expansion and cost of goods sold. The company anounced that Ronald Lalla has been named executive vice president, chief merchandising officer, effective Monday, March 19. Lalla will report to Michael Lewis, executive vice president, president retail. "Ron is a strategic merchant with a strong financial acumen who will focus on driving disciplined processes to enhance the customer experience and improve margins," said Ravi Saligram, president and CEO of OfficeMax.