Office Depot Finds Its Mobile Mojo

Looking for examples of brick and mortar stores that are embracing the mobile revolution? I’ve found one that may inspire you.

Several months ago, I wrote about the challenges and opportunities brick and mortar stores have in a world increasingly connected by mobile devices. Customers have taken to “showrooming” store merchandise, by which I mean they try a product in-store and then order it online at a lower price from their smartphones.

Not surprisingly, the retail world is responding to this phenomenon. I recently came across one example of a traditional retailer that’s planning some mobile-friendly tools for in-store shoppers: Office Depot. You can read about its mobile plans here.

In summary, many Office Depot store employees soon will carry mobile devices running apps that will enable them to help customers pull up product information and reviews and place online orders when the item can’t be found in-store. These devices also will allow employees to spare customers the checkout line by processing payments on the spot, just as Apple Stores do.

This is a promising example of a brick and mortar store recognizing the advantages of “showrooming” its merchandise by letting customers handle the goods, get useful product information, buy it from officedepot.com if it’s not available (with free shipping to boot), and pay for it, all while standing in any aisle of the store.

If you operate a retail store, I encourage you to visit a place like Office Depot to see what the customer experience is like. If you see that it works for Office Depot, perhaps something similar can work for you, too.

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