The Home Depot is doling out ample cash to beef up its technology. The home improvement retailer, No. 8 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 1000, said last week it is hiring more than 1,000 technology professionals to power the $11.1 billion investment it is making in technology through 2020. The retailer has technology hubs in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Portland, Ore., and San Mateo, Calif.
Home Depot plans to spend $5.4 billion over the next three years on strategic investments related to its “One Home Depot” vision—which is what the retailer calls its quest for the ideal omnichannel experience. That spending will come on top of Home Depot’s $5.7 billion “business-as-usual” investments and bring its three-year investment plan to $11.1 billion overall.
In the announcement, the retailer says it writes 90% of its own code, which allows it to “…quickly create innovative solutions for our millions of online customers and mobile app users.” Home Depot also has its own innovation lab called Orange Works in its home state of Atlanta at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The center, which launched in 2015, focuses on virtual reality, 3-D printing and 3-D scanning.
Home Depot is at the forefront of omnichannel technology with a robust mobile app and well-oiled omnichannel services, including buy online, pick up in store, and it provides shoppers with helpful information online about local Home Depot stores, such as inventory levels and product location.
Dave Abbott, vice president of integrated media for Home Depot, tells Internet Retailer that 46% of U.S. online orders are picked up in a Home Depot store, and 10% of Home Depot’s online orders originate in the store as customers and associates interact together for a web purchase. The vast majority of online orders that are returned are returned to stores, Abbott says.
Home Depot logged 1.8 billion visits to its website in 2017, Abbott says. “A lot of those customers have no intentions of buying online,” he says. “But they want to know, ‘How do I get in and out of a store as quickly and painlessly as possible?’ We get a ton of visits to our website, but 93% of our sales are still in stores.”
Home Depot says its online sales grew 21% in the fourth quarter and 21.5% in fiscal 2017—now representing 6.7% of total sales.
On Home Depot’s website, each store has its own page, Abbott says. Not all Home Depot stores offer the same products and services, he says, so this is helpful for shoppers. For example, only some stores offer equipment rentals. Home Depot also will ship an online order from one store to another store that is closer to the shopper for pick up, Abbott says.
In 2017 Home Depot launched a tool that lets a shopper—often a tradesperson or contractor—view inventory from a specific store near his worksite, purchase a product from that store online and have it delivered that same day. The retailer also will tell shoppers on its site and app precisely where an item in a specific store is located—down to the aisle—in each of its sprawling home improvement superstores and provides local store inventory down to the SKU level.Favorite