Having opened its first store in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1986, Office Depot has grown into a global company with $14.5 billion annual sales. From its Boca Raton headquarters, it runs a business that operates in 47 countries, employs over 42,000 people and has almost 1,600 retail stores, 1,200 of which are in the US and Canada. As well as the stores, it sells its products through a contracted sales force, direct marketing catalogs, phone and fax orders and various websites (e.g. www.officedepot.com in the US).
Sales are aimed at everyone, from the smallest home or home office customers through to the largest corporates, with Retail, Business and International Divisions responsible for the different sectors. Products cover everything you could possibly need for the office and are categorized by Office Supplies (paper, filing, pens and the rest), Technology (including computers, software and office machines as well as TVs and video games) and Furniture (such as desks, chairs and bookshelves).
You can process a search to find what you want and there are a number of offers available at different times (you can get alerts by email or on your phone for these). There are also separate headings for: Ink Depot where you can identify what you want by manufacturer or cartridge reference (www.inkdepot.com redirects you to the main site), Paper Depot which includes a Buyer's Guide (warning, www.paperdepot.com takes you to a different company), Copy & Print Depot for special copying and printing such as business cards and Tech Depot for IT equipment, services and software (there is a standalone site at www.techdepot.com).
There are various services aimed particularly at small businesses, such as free templates for business forms, handbooks, a design service for logos, websites and brochures, and a variety of advice. Sign up for the Worklife Rewards Program to earn rewards on almost everything you buy. These are paid quarterly in the form of a Reward Card that you can use to purchase products or services. You can sign up for selected special offers while other offers are available through partner organizations and there's a Worklife Rewards credit card.
There is a Greener Office section where you can buy remanufactured and recycled products. There are also low energy light bulbs plus refillable products and refills for them. You can buy a Tech Recycling Box at any store, fill it up with as many suitable items as you can and then return it to the store for recycling. Amongst its environmental activities, the company sponsors a Sustainable Procurement Awards scheme to recognize sustainable procurement by its customers. There are separate awards for best customers in Corporate, Public Sector, Education and Medium and Smaller Business categories.
On a non-environmentally friendly note, but more for the geeks among you, the company is also involved in motor sport. It is an official office products partner of NASCAR and is a sponsor of Stewart-Haas Racing.
In an effort to improve profitability, the company has reduced the range of consumer electronics that it offers. This had comprised around a quarter of its turnover but notebook computers, which made up the bulk of the sales, have very low margins. The aim is to concentrate instead on services, such as subsidiary company Tech Depot's IT support services. Overall turnover will be hit as a result of the change but profits are expected to be little affected.
Profits may not be helped by the filing of a complaint by one-time supplier Nukote International. The Texas-based company is claiming $217 million, alleging that it was forced into bankruptcy as a result of deceptive practices and non-payment of bills. However, the claim is being contested, with the defendant claiming it was forced to find another supplier due to Nukote stopping deliveries and leaving it short of stock. In a separate development: at the time of writing, investigations are being conducted by the attorneys general of Colorado, California and Ohio into pricing policies in respect of government contracts.
Of course, the customers seem to think there is something funny going on with terms like office despot and deport appearing in the search logs. ;) Naturally the usual suspects to look out for are things like 0ffice or deopt where the wrong keyboard key can send you to the totally wrong place. Even the most common and phonetic errors such as ofice, offfice or depo have not been picked up the company with domain names such as www.officedepo.com and www.oficedepot.com going to a competitor's website. It seems they couldn't even be bothered to buy up www.office-depot.com so when you do actually get to the right site and you plan on coming back, bookmark it to avoid any possible wandering. With a company of this size it is very unusual to see so many variants owned by rivals and squatters.
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