Bookseller Continues Advancing Multi-line Expansion with Cloud-Based Tools

Solution Overview:

Organization Size

6500  employees

Organization Profile

Indigo Books & Music is Canada’s largest book and specialty retailer with 231 stores across 10 provinces and a staff of 6,500 people.

Business Situation

Indigo sought a cloud-based IT option that would keep data secure while conserving resources and enhancing collaboration.


Microsoft Office 365 provides the security features and communication tools Indigo needed to recapture staff time and work together more effectively.

  • Payback in less than one year
  • Disaster recovery support
  • 30% user time savings
Software and Services
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Microsoft Exchange Online
  • Microsoft Lync Online
  • Microsoft SharePoint Online
Vertical Industries

Specialty Retail



Business Need

Business Productivity

IT Issue
  • Cloud Services
  • Hosted Messaging and Collaboration


Company Overview:

Transformation has been a necessity for Indigo Books & Music, Canada’s largest book retailer. While many traditional booksellers struggle to compete in today’s digitally-driven landscape, Indigo has found success in breaking the mold and constantly thinking ahead.

INDIGO-BOOKS-AND-MUSIC-INC-Case-Study-Foetron Inc.Since opening its first brick-and-mortar shop in 1997, the organization has evolved into a multichannel destination for specialty toy, home and lifestyle products while continuing to remain close to its booklover customers. To help achieve this transformation, Indigo needed an operating model that reflected its commitment to innovation. Indigo’s leaders considered multiple options but after thoughtful consideration, they chose Microsoft Office 365. Today, the company is radically redefining the way people work together—and what’s possible for the organization.


Business has always been about more than books for Indigo. As its website expresses, the company was created out of the “desire to bring a unique cultural destination to the Canadian retail marketplace.” Always seeking ways to deliver on this aspiration, the company keeps books at its core but offers a diverse selection in gifts, specialty toys, and home décor products in its 231 stores and, the award-winning online destination.

“Our greatest opportunity now is being thought of as more than a book seller,” says Sumit Oberai, CIO and EVP of Digital. “We’re a creative department store—the place where book lovers can find everything they’re looking for.”

People are finding new ways to use Office 365 to help each other communicate better. That makes us more responsive as a business—and able to deliver exceptional customer experiences.

– Michael Smyth
VP Retail Operations,
Indigo Books & Music.

To keep focus on this transformation, Indigo explored ways to improve employee collaboration. A board audit raised the priority of disaster recovery for communications and control of the business, adding requirements that would be costly to meet with an on-premises system. At the same time, senior leaders also recognized the need to simplify the way staff create and share critical information. So how could the company best tackle both challenges? For Indigo, there was only one logical answer: bring it all together in the cloud.


Indigo looked into multiple cloud-based solutions and while each offered advantages, the company ultimately landed on Microsoft Office 365, an online service which unites familiar Microsoft Office applications with email, calendaring, collaboration, and communication solutions. Right away, Oberai knew it was the right option.

“With Office 365, there’s zero change management risk—everyone already knows and trusts Microsoft applications,” Oberai explains. The smooth transition meant Indigo didn’t need to invest time or resources to train its staff. And with flexible licensing, Oberai can upgrade users as new versions become available, which means Indigo won’t need to pay extra for future upgrades.

Oberai also points to savings that will result from repurposing IT investments to future-focused activities.

“We had two people spending half their time running our Exchange environment—and now, with Office 365, they’re redirecting that energy to building new capabilities,” he says. “When you consider the ongoing cost to manage on-premise servers and make periodic capital investments, we would spend significantly more than our investment in Office 365.”

While the company believes the overall cost savings will be considerable, Michael Smyth, Indigo’s VP of Retail Operations is most impressed by the human benefits of using Office 365.

“All of the tools available with Office 365 are helping people solve new problems every day,” he says. “Employees are completing crucial merchandising documents faster and showing each other better ways to navigate our in-house systems using desktop sharing on Lync.”

While the impetus behind the move to Office 365 was addressed almost instantaneously, both Oberai and Smyth note the company is seeing far more advantages than anticipated: “With Office 365, we now have critical disaster recovery but we’re also discovering new capabilities,” says Oberai.

“The benefits of using Office 365 are profound and far reaching,” adds Smyth. “We now have everything in one place, accessible from anywhere. That’s enormously powerful.”


Employees are raving about the benefits of Office 365. “New ways to create and share information is absolutely winning enthusiasm,” says Smyth.

Beyond Backup

Office 365 comes with a 99.9% uptime guarantee, continuous data backup and geo-redundant data centers—a complete mix that addressed Indigo’s disaster recovery needs. “Compared with building our own backup system, Office 365 was the cost-effective choice,” Oberai notes. “But there was so much more, including the 25 GB of email storage that comes with Exchange Online—this helps staff shave hours of nonproductive time.”

Better Content

Before using Office 365, store leaders and staff found the process of updating and sharing huge merchandising documents quite burdensome as they emailed feedback back-and-forth.

Today, employees discuss their feedback life on Lync, and use co-authoring in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel and save everything to the cloud. “People can now share feedback in the moment,” says Smyth. “We’re speeding iterations and eliminating time wasted on emails. That’s more time we have to focus on the quality of deliverables—which is already improving.”

Improved Experiences

Overall, employees are recapturing 30% of the time previously spent emailing each other and working with tech support, such as when they need help to navigate the personnel scheduling system. Now, with Lync Online, employees and store managers can instant message, video conference or share screens.

Smyth says that using Lync Online is not only improving collaboration; it’s empowering employees. “We can comment on files or product changes in real-time and even share or take over screens to show people how to navigate new systems or fix problems,” he notes.

Overall, Smyth believes Office 365 aligns with Indigo’s aspirations. “People are finding new ways to use Office 365 to help each other communicate better,” he says. “That makes us more responsive as a business—and able to deliver exceptional customer experiences.”

Microsoft Office 365:

Microsoft Office 365 brings together cloud versions of our most trusted communications and collaboration products—Microsoft SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online—with the latest version of our Office desktop suite and companion web applications for businesses of all sizes.

Office 365 helps save time and money, and it frees up valued resources. Simple to use and easy to administer, it is financially backed by a service level agreement guaranteeing 99 percent reliability. Office 365 features robust security, IT-level phone support, geo-redundancy, disaster recovery, and the business-class privacy controls and standards that you expect from a world-class service provider.



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