Office Depot Launches Holiday Gift Microsite

Nov 17, 2009 9:34 PM  By

When you think of Office Depot, you probably think of disposable pens, reams of paper, and Post-it notes, and other non-glamorous items you’d use during the work day, rather than fun holiday gifts.

The office supplies merchant is aiming to change that with Top30SmartGifts.com, a microsite launched last week to both engage consumers and educate them of its offerings that are suitable for holiday gift giving.

The goal of the flash site is to help consumers shop for gifts based on a recipient’s personality type and to promote special deals for the week up until Christmas, says Monica Luechtefeld, Office Depot’s executive vice president-e-commerce and direct marketing.

A daily sweepstakes launching on Nov. 22 and running through Christmas Eve will award five winners the gift of the day. The Top30SmartGifts.com site also hosts holiday videos and games, and allows users to become a fan of Office Depot on Facebook and get access to special deals and promotions.

This is not Office Depot’s first attempt at using microsites, or the first time it’s using a URL that does not contain Office Depot in the URL. Luechtefeld says the merchant has had success with its school.com domain name around back to school time, even though that URL is a redirect to OfficeDepot.com.

But the Top30SmartGifts.com site is not set up for e-commerce. If you click for more information on one of the gifts, you are redirected to the product location on OfficeDepot.com.

“We tend to try to keep the microsites away from the transactional business, especially during the holiday,” Luechtefeld says. “We want the customers to distinguish between the store and a community.”

Luechtefeld compares Top30SmartGifts to its OfficeDepotRacing.com Website, which supports its sponsorship of NASCAR and driver Tony Stewart. It’s a large traffic-driver for racing fans, and it gives users a sense of community, and it invites the user to check out sales and specials on the main Website.

But wouldn’t all these separate URLs hurt Office Depot as it tries to grow its Website? Not at all, Luechtefeld says. For one, the more separate URLs a merchant has, the better the chance someone will find Office Depot in one way or another through a search engine.

Plus having the microsites on different platforms helps Office Depot concentrate on e-commerce on one site alone.

“OfficeDepot.com won’t get credit for visits and views on Top30SmartGifts.com, but that’s not how we measure success on the Web,” Luechtefeld says. “The microsites are about connecting the customer to Office Depot, which we think it does. This way you can have fun on the site, and do it without pushing the transaction.”