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Customer service strategy at Office Depot

Is it just me or has the quality of the articles in HBR got better? To that point, the current issue has an interesting article from the president of Office Depot. Ostensibly, it’s about customer service strategy, but there are few other titbits that caught my attention:

  • The top three players in the office supplies business (market size: $300B) have less than 10% of the market. Smells like an opportunity to me.
  • A typical Office Depot carries ~8,500 SKUs. This is right in line with the ~8,000 SKUs that a typical Staples store carries. No real differentiation here.
  • 65% of Office Depot customers are SMB. They care about is convenience above all else.
  • “We need our customers more than they need us”. Amen to that.
  • Office Depot was spending more time keeping its bathrooms spic and span, while ignoring customers.

As a consumer, it’s hard for me to distinguish between office supplies stores – this may be an opportunity for one of these players. As a consultant, it’s refreshing to see companies (and especially executives) stay humble and keep customer needs in mind while formulating strategy.

Worth a quick read if you’re in the office supplies / retail business. Email me if you need a copy (the website requires subscription/registration).

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