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OfficeMax exec: Mobile integral to customer loyalty strategy

January 21, 2011

OfficeMax is using mobile to engage its most loyal customers

The mobile medium in general and smartphone applications in particular are key elements of office products retailer OfficeMax Inc.’s strategy for engaging its best customers via its MaxPerks loyalty program.

The retailer is no stranger to the mobile space. OfficeMax recently enhanced its free application for Apple’s iPhone with mobile-only deals and launched a version for Google’s Android (see story).

This past holiday season, the retailer introduced the Holiday Party Bingo iPhone application that works alone or in conjunction with the companion Facebook application to engage holiday party-goers and drive sales of customized 2011 calendars (see story).

Mobile Commerce Daily’s Dan Butcher interviewed Chris Duncan, vice president of direct marketing at OfficeMax, Naperville, IL. Here is what he had to say:

What is OfficeMax’s strategy behind updating your apps for Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android?
Our strategy is to offer upgrades only when we are adding new features that enhance the shopping experience for our customers.

We want the application to stay relevant and fresh. Our goal is to make the OfficeMax app one of the most helpful shopping apps on the market that continually offers great value for our customers.   

What is the target demographic of the apps?
Small businesses and entrepreneurs, but specifically our most loyal customers – MaxPerks members.

We wanted to create an application specifically for our MaxPerks members first, because they are our most responsive customer base and their feedback is immediate.

If we can exceed the expectations of our most loyal customers and address the feedback they give us, then we feel it will make the app better and more appealing to a broader base of consumers.

The ability for MaxPerks customers to access all of their account information within the application, including offers, rewards and purchase history, really differentiates the OfficeMax app from most other retailers.     

How has OfficeMax been getting the word out about these apps?
We used all of our existing channels to build awareness of the OfficeMax application. We also used social channels that cater to the mobile-centric user.

With mobile shopping still being a relatively new concept to consumers, we felt that we needed to use an aggressive multifaceted approach to attract users quickly, motivating them to become early-adopters of the application.

Some of our tactics included putting notifications in our weekly circulars – still a very significant and effect advertising tool for us – direct mail to our MaxPerks members and launching a dedicated landing page.

We also launched a multichannel Web/social strategy that included multiple posts on Facebook and Twitter.

What are some examples of coupons, offers or promotions currently featured within the apps?
We first started with just offering app-exclusive offers to attract early-adopters. These offers included both online and in-store offers.

We quickly added existing offers from our weekly circular ad and saw further growth in downloads of our application.

The beauty of mobile shopping is the frontier is wide open and we have the ability to test different types of offers and to almost immediately see what works and what does not. 

What are your predictions for the mobile marketing and commerce ecosystems in 2011?
The ability for smartphone technology to provide immediate access to information and tools will continue to accelerate.

In addition, smartphone users will grow more comfortable with making purchases on their mobile devices, allowing them to conduct business wherever they are.

This movement will also be fed by the expansion of mobile payment options.

We believe mobile marketing will create a more informed shopper and will help them make better purchasing decisions faster than ever before.


Final Take
Dan Butcher, associate editor, Mobile Commerce Daily

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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