Office Supply Business Website Comparison

Office Supply Business Website Comparison

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Office Supply Business Website Comparison
The office supply business is one of the most competitive arenas in business today. What started out as something so simple has blossomed into a very large portion of spending by not only businesses but also by everyday consumers. The typical office supply chain targets businesses, both large and small, and consumers which include the person buying an ink cartridge for his printer to the parent who is buying supplies for her home school. Teachers have also become a target with so many teachers now buying a portion of the supplies used in the classroom. Three leaders in the office supply arena are OfficeMax, Staples, and Office Depot. All three of these leaders have also launched their business on the ever expanding Internet. The question becomes whether or not these businesses are successful on the Internet. That question can be answered by looking into the look and feel of these websites and how the websites fit in with the business model of the brick and mortar store.
OfficeMax
The OfficeMax website is laid out very nicely and is very informative. Everything is categorized on the main page for easy navigation. There is a search tool at the top center of the page which is very easy to use. There are tabs across the top of the page for easy navigation to the different categories of the site. They offer a store locator which is very important for a business such as Office Max that has many locations. Another thing that is nice about this site is it lists the cart total at the top of the page so that regardless of where a consumer is within their site and how much they had added to their virtual shopping cart, the total is always displayed at the top of the page.

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The site has a link that offers special on-line deals as well as deals that are available in-store only. The site includes pictures to go along with very detailed descriptions of the products they offer. At the bottom of the page, they clearly list their customer support number, credit card security information, how to easily handle returns, and information regarding their privacy policy. Overall, the look and feel of this site is excellent. They provide a site that offers a lot of information and features in a manner that does not overwhelm.
Staples
Staples web site sells all types of commodities. To name a few of them, they sell office supplies, technology, various types of furniture and home furnishings. The website is very creative and full of information that customers would be searching for right at their fingertips. On the main page of Staples website there are approximately 54 links in which customers can choose to find the information that they are looking for, making it easy to locate specific information very quickly. The yellowish background color stands out so that all of the information provided on the main page of the website becomes very appealing. The images provide a visual advantage of selected products and the availability of the product cost is given as well.
While searching the website, the feel is as though the company tries hard to satisfy its customers and wants to keep the customers interested in the products offered. Users will find that the amount of information provided on the website must truly satisfy the friendliness of the company. All of the products offered on the store's website make it feel as though all shopping can be done in one place and not have to search various websites, which could save time and money. The information provided about the products that Staples sells makes the customer feel as though they are face-to-face with an employee and are getting the type of response they are looking for. The Verisign Secured icon on the website page allows users to feel safe and secure to purchase products over the Internet (Staples, 2007).
Immediately, upon clicking on a link the user is able to receive more information about particular items and images. The links provide an abundance of detailed information for many of the items listed on the webpage. Users are able to navigate through the website with ease. For a customer, this website is very inviting and would entice them to continue to order from the Staples online store website.
Office Depot
The Office Depot web site is user friendly and has many options for the user. One of the things that stand out the most is the four headers across the top of the web site. The headers represent the products that Office Depot sells at their stores and from the online catalog. The four headers make a user feel confident that they will find what they are looking for in short period of time. The site clearly defines what Office Depot sells and the site is not overwhelmed with advertising. The bottom of the Office Depot web site lists site information, customer service, company information, specials, and product links to easily navigate to what the customer needs. One of the most important items to have on a web site is customer service contact information, if a user needs to speak to a representative. The Office Depot web site clearly represents the links to access the customer service department. The overall feeling a user gets from the Office Depot web site is it is easy to use, visually not too busy, and there are many options to choose.
Comparisons
All three sites offer similar layouts that allow the user to navigate around the site. OfficeMax.com gives the consumer an experience that allows them to get what they need in the quickest and most user friendly way. Staples.com does the best job in making their retail store themes reflected on their web site. The "EASY" button and Easy Rebates are integrated in the site. OfficeDepot.com does a better job targeting the small business than the other two. The feel of their website is geared toward what a small business would need, where the other two seem to be focused more on consumers. OfficeMax does the best job allowing users the ability to transfer documents and request services from their print and document service center. Offering a sneak peak to their upcoming ads is something all three sites have done to make the shopping experience easier.
Conclusion
The introduction of websites has been difficult for some companies and for others it has been easy. The difference is how the company uses its website to enhance its already successful business practice. Those that use it as an extension of their business have been the most successful. The most important recommendation for each site is to increase how user friendly the sites are. On each site there has been something that wasn't clear to the consumer. Each site making its own specific changes will increase the ease of us of their site and naturally lead to greater use and profit from the website. The biggest recommendation to any company is to follow the model that the office supply companies use when building a website. OfficeMax, Staples, and Office Depot all use their websites as an extension of their businesses and have been successful in doing so. They all have easy navigation, and are user friendly. These important factors have contributed to their current and future success.


References
OfficeDepot.com. Website of Office Depot online office supply store. Retrieved January 5, 2007 from http://www.officedepot.com/
OfficeMax.com. Website of OfficeMax online office supply store. Retrieved January 5, 2007 from http://www.officemax.com/
Staples.com. Website of Staples online office supply store. Retrieved January 5, 2007 from http://www.staples.com/
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