When you think office supply retailers, chances are you’ll think of Staples, OfficeMax, or Office Depot; and apparently, more consumers are thinking Staples over the competition. The number of visits to the Staples domain is nearly double that of its closest competitor, Office Depot, and triple OfficeMax. All three retailers see seasonal traffic increases during back-to-school and the holidays, but Staples has been able to hold onto their lead over the competitive set over the past couple of years.
However, when it comes to Staples’ ability to turn their high traffic into conversions, they might be falling short of the competition. Conversion rates for the three retailers show that Office Depot has been converting visitors more frequently than Staples since June of 2009, and the gap has been widening since. Noticeably lower are the conversion rates for OfficeMax, which coupled with the retailer’s third place total visits, paints a dismal portrait of OfficeMax’s ability to compete with Office Depot and Staples.
A good indicator of online-to-offline interest is a retailer’s store locator tool. And it is in this online-to-offline funnel that OfficeMax, who lags behind the other two retailers in online traffic and conversions, may be the most successful in turning their online visitors into offline shoppers. While the rates of shoppers who use the store locator tool for Staples and Office Depot stay pretty much even with each other, it is OfficeMax who comes out on top over the past two years. Most noticeably, during the back-to-school season, we see a spike in OfficeMax’s store locator usage which is far greater than the other two retailers.
Brand recognition is clearly a powerful tool in Staples’ arsenal, given that they see significantly more traffic than their rivals. OfficeMax and Office Depot are offering some stiff competition. Aware that they will struggle to match Staples’ volume of traffic, they are determined to get the most out of them. Office Depot’s ability to convert online shoppers more successfully and OfficeMax’s effectiveness at channeling online to in-store shoppers are keeping them competitive with Staples. Yet if these other two retailers are staying competitive with Staples despite the large difference in traffic, the question remains: What are Staples’ visitors doing? The answer to that could be Staples’ “easy button” to knocking out the competition.