Office Depot attracts on-the-go shoppers with local inventory ads

April 2015

Office Depot, Inc., formed as part of the merger of Office Depot and OfficeMax, turned to local inventory ads (LIA) to reach omni-channel shoppers. The results provided a better shopping experience, deeper consumer insights and a 3X return on the company's digital marketing spend.


Emphasised mobile and omni-channel advertising

Began using local inventory ads from Google

Added Store Visits reporting to learn more about shop foot traffic


Reach the omni-channel consumer

Send customers to local shops

Understand how mobile ads drive sales


Generated 3X return on digital spending

Gained new insights into on-the-go shoppers

Developed a clear bridge between customer clicks and shop visits

Office Depot, Inc., formed as part of the merger of Office Depot and OfficeMax, is a leading global provider of workplace products and solutions _ whether your workplace is an office, home, school or car _ in over 57 countries with more than 2,000 retail locations as well as award-winning websites and a dedicated business-to-business sales organisation _ all delivered through a global network of wholly owned operations, joint ventures, franchisees, licensees and alliance partners.

In order to reach a customer base of increasingly omni-channel shoppers, Office Depot turned to local inventory ads (LIA) from Shopping ads. These ads display information about inventory in local Office Depot stores so customers searching on their mobile devices can see products that they need that can be found nearby. The results provided a better shopping experience for customers, deeper consumer insights for the Office Depot team, and a 3X return on the company's digital marketing spend.

When Office Depot was founded in 1986, the in-store retail customer shopping experience was revolutionary for the office supply industry. Today, the company is focused on enhancing the omni-channel shopping experience for its customers.

"Today's consumer wants to shop when and wherever they want," says Christine Buscarino, vice president of ecommerce marketing for Office Depot, Inc. "People consume while they're on the go from home to work, and are online throughout their daily journeys. They're literally always plugged in and turned on."

Office Depot has always been successful in traditional advertising media such as TV, radio and direct mail as well as print catalogues and newspaper inserts, but the company realised that it needed to incorporate other methods to better reach its on-the-go digital customers. "With 2,000 retail stores, we were very open to exploring new ways to drive more traffic with the latest mobile innovations," says Buscarino. That's when the company decided to conduct a test with LIA.

Local inventory ads

LIA displays information that's connected to the actual inventory in Office Depot stores. When customers in Los Angeles or Houston use their mobile phone to search for a laptop, printer or backpack, they may see an ad showing whether or not the item is available in a nearby shop, and where the nearest shop is located. This makes it simple for customers to discover what products are in stock as they're researching and shopping online.

"Local inventory ads provide us with a unique opportunity to offer products that customers are searching for and assure them that there is inventory in a shop nearby," says Buscarino. It took coordination among the company's E-commerce and IT teams who worked together to organise and share Office Depot's inventory with AdWords in a way that would give customers the very latest product information. "That effort was worth the great results," Buscarino says.

Now Office Depot can reach customers who are researching products online and are close to making a purchase. "We can actually expand the reach of our retail footprint into the digital space and give our customers the omni-channel experience that they want. This information is extremely valuable as it provides us with information about the products or categories that convert at a higher rate, identifying those which deserve greater attention."

Measuring digital impact on shop foot traffic

Office Depot needed to measure other valuable activities besides clicks such as cross-device conversions, clicks on a shop locator button, and shop visits. To better understand the full value of its investment and further improve customer experiences online and in-store, Office Depot implemented "Store Visits", a new metric that is part of Google AdWords estimated total conversions.

"The Store Visits data has helped bridge the gap between customers who clicked, were interested in the product and actually visited one of our shops," says Buscarino. "We knew that our online ads were influencing shop purchases, but we lacked adequate metrics to accurately calculate it. Once we saw our Store Visits reports, we were able to attribute a 3X return on spend to our digital campaigns."

Future plans

"Digital activities that drive traffic to our shops is still a relatively new omni-channel effort for Office Depot, but given the increased customer migration to mobile, it makes sense," says Buscarino. "LIA provides contextually relevant information, where customers need it, when they need it."

Along with the 3X return on spending for digital campaigns, omni-channel shopping has also given Office Depot unexpected insights into what customers really want. "With some categories, such as technology, we expected to have a high in-store visit rate, but we were surprised to learn that many people search for office supplies before coming to a shop. This allows us to plan and promote the right categories and products in LIA to customers during seasonal peaks when it will be most effective."

In short, omni-channel marketing is working for both Office Depot and its customers. "Now we are able to reach customers when they search for a product," says Buscarino. "We are as close to the retail transaction as we can be within the buying funnel."

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