Office Max partners with GoDaddy

Office Max and GoDaddy have teamed up to offer web site bundles to small and medium-size businesses in the retail marketplace.

What??

Yes, you read that correctly. In one of the wackiest partnerships ever, Office Max is going to be a GoDaddy reseller, offering domain name purchases and hosting solutions in retail stores across the country.

In a press release January 17, the office supply chain said this deal makes them “the exclusive nationwide retailer for Go Daddy websites and domain names”. Interestingly, this arrangement allows Office Max to offer GoDaddy’s domains and services in-store only; they will not offer them online (presumably to prevent direct competition with GoDaddy itself).

On the surface, it sounds like a match made in Wonderland. However, according to GoDaddy, 70% of their customers are small to medium-size businesses, which is also the market Office Max targets. Given that, such a partnership seems to make more sense. There’s just one little thing to consider. How does the market feel about this?

To the general public, this new arrangement probably means essentially nothing, except that they can now walk into an Office Max and buy a domain name build a web site instead of ordering it online. But would they do it? When you get the urge to check for an available domain name or build a web site, does it make sense to jump in your car and drive to the nearest Office Max, or just search around the Internet? Isn’t it more natural and a whole lot faster to shop for domain names and purchase hosting solutions directly online rather than walk into a brick-and-morter big box store across town?

Those are all interesting things to consider, but for those in the business of offering the same services and are part of the GoDaddy Reseller program, there is a much bigger question to ask. How does this new partnership affect existing GoDaddy Resellers?

Well, to put it simply, you may now have some serious competition from a bigger brand with a lot more marketing clout. A lot of IT service providers also offer web hosting and design to their local customers in the same SMB marketplace serviced by office supply companies such as Office Max, and some of them are GoDaddy resellers. if you are one of them, this Office Max and GoDaddy partnership is something to consider as a potential threat to your local business. if you are a GoDaddy reseller and offer domain names, hosting and web site design services to customers in your local service area, get ready. You’re now going to have a big box competitor in town, courtesy of your reseller partner.

However, there are a couple of questions about this big box partnership that can actually give you a competitive edge, if you can provide the right answers. The first was already asked. Does a walk-in purchase of a cloud-based product or service make sense? Since the GoDaddy Reseller program is Internet based, most of the resellers offer their re-branded domain and hosting solutions almost exclusively over the web, something that Office Max will allegedly not do. This may level the playing field somewhat and give the resellers who provide web site design and consulting services to their customers face-to-face a slight advantage. The success of this depends somewhat on the next item: the question of pre-sales support.

Historically, big box retailers are not known for their knowledge and experience with the products and services they sell. This isn’t merely conjecture, it’s a documented fact. Large retails sell tens of thousands of different products, items that they don’t design and manufacture themselves, and while some employees can be trained to learn the basic attributes of a few specific lines or items, it isn’t cost-effective or even feasible to learn them all. When it comes to tech-related items, most rank-and-file employees do not have training or experience in IT, which means they really aren’t qualified to provide the guidance and consultation to meet the individual requirements and needs of most customers who are shopping for tech. For this reason, big box retail chains are best suited to selling general consumables to the masses; they cannot deliver specialized IT related products and services to small businesses effectively. This is where a qualified IT consultant shines.

But it won’t stop Office Max from trying. According to their press release, “Trained OfficeMax store associates are available on-site to help each business select the Go Daddy website bundle that best meets their needs.” Sort of like their PC repair service, CTRLCenter®?

Uh huh. Well, We’ll see how that works out.

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