September 20, 2004, 12:00 AM

OfficeMax views stronger web ties between b2b and retail

A redesigned web site for OfficeMax’s business contract market is helping to maintain an expected 25% hike in sales this year, as OfficeMax looks for ways to build stronger ties between its contract business and the more retail-oriented OfficeMax.com.

A redesigned web site for OfficeMax’s business contract market is helping to maintain an expected 25% hike in sales this year over last year, as OfficeMax looks for ways to build stronger ties between its contract business and the more retail-oriented OfficeMax.com, Jim Carrington, director of e-commerce, tells Internet Retailer.

The redesign, completed in-house, coincides with OfficeMax’s plan to migrate its business-to-business brand from Boise Office Solutions to OfficeMax, though the b2b web address will remain BoiseOffice.com until next year. OfficeMax is a unit of office supplies company Boise Cascade Corp., which acquired it last December. OfficeMax operates as part of the Boise Office Solutions division.

When BoiseOffice.com takes on the OfficeMax brand, it will operate separately and with a different web address from the existing OfficeMax.com, which caters to spot buys by small businesses as well as consumers. OfficeMax.com is No. 15 in Internet Retailer’sTop 300 Guide to online retailers.

But Carrington says Boise is exploring ways to integrate the two sites more closely, possibly with direct links to encourage cross-over shopping. "Our contract customers may want to visit OfficeMax.com to buy school supplies for their children, and now we have an opportunity to tie the two sites more closely together," he says, adding that small businesses making spot buys on OfficeMax.com, may want to explore business contract services.

Boise had started the b2b site redesign project before it acquired OfficeMax, but the new features in the business contract site could also become common on OfficeMax.com, Carrington says. "We may have an opportunity to do a more common interface," he says.

The changes to the b2b site are designed to help users find what they need more quickly with better organizational support, Carrington says. OfficeMax changed its presentation of product images on BoiseOffice.com to show thumbnails that shoppers can click to enlarge, and it added a mouse-over feature in several product listing areas to let visitors see additional information without having to click links. The changes provide for faster navigation without limiting the flexibility shoppers have in seeing products, Carrington says.

In addition to improved navigation that lets shoppers reach any product section of the site with a single mouse click, the site provides shoppers with quick access to records of their past orders. It automatically saves shopping selections, preventing their orders from getting lost if they must temporarily leave their computer while shopping.

The new design also lets customers order products for multiple departments in a single order, while also arranging for billing to multiple cost centers. Customers can also use the new site to set parameters on purchasing activity for individual departments and personnel.

 

 

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