Home Depot Is Improving, How About Others?
Home Depot might just be doing something right at a right time. We have long been missing a significant improvement for customer experience and it looks like the retailer is about to change some things to make it better for all of us.
Home Depot is in the midst of making its online and in-store operations and processes run smooth and in unified fashion. This strategy might already be responsible for a significant increase in holiday home-improvement merchandise sales. Thanks to Home Depot, its competitors might benefit too as the improvements are destined to encourage buyers' trust and expectations.
Home Depot and others understand what shoppers want - integrated processes, wide access, product inventory, and problem-free delivery. The last part can be hard to handle - many things need at least a forklift to get to consumers.
Despite some problems and setbacks, Home Depot is staying on-track its 5-year plan to streamline its operations, create 'one-store' consumer-friendly model, called One Home Depot. The changes are working and delivering results even at early stages, as proven by increased sales across the board. So much so, that the home improvement store increased its projected sales growth from 7% to 7.2%
2019 is going to be the year when full scope of changes will be revealed and evaluated. Current low employment rate might be responsible for increased renovations and home improvements, slightly inflating the results of Home Depot innovations. This remains to be seen in the near future as time will separate economic influences from real results.
Understandingly, other retailers are watching and are on the stand-by to implement similar changes if this strategy really works for Home Depot. Modern consumers are shopping online in increased numbers and thus expect seamless service and transition from in-store experience.
One Store plan components
1. Search and site navigation improvements
Home Depot understands that user experience lies in streamlined search capabilities while the retailer focuses on improved communication and efficiency with delivery teams. These improvements result in delivering packages within 2-4 hours of agreed window and keeping consumers informed, which can be vital for professional and individual consumers alike. The goal is to have a forklift on site waiting to unload the arriving package.
Improved supply chain and delivery partner distribution can now guarantee that about 95% of U.S. population can be reached within two or even one days. This was previously unavailable. The new goal is to be able to deliver to 90% of all population same-day or next-day. The speed of delivery is especially important to contractors to whom time is money.
A large part of consumers want to be able to order online and pick items at their local store to save on shipping charges. This process is also undergoing improvements with car and van delivery to over 40% of population.
3. Coupon Policy
Home Depot implements coupon policy which attracts many new home owners to the store. There are many ways of obtaining Home Depot coupons besides receiving coupons in the mail. It may surprise you but you can even buy Home Depot coupons on eBay.
Over 600 locations now have improved signs and labels making finding what you are looking for easier. Funds are also being invested in pick-up lockers that will allow customers to speed up their click and pick online purchases.
Employees now have a way to check on popular items overhead storage, which was done manually and inefficiently before. This already resulted in 24% decrease of out-of-stock products.
5. Website improvement
Home Depot calculated that in-stock products sell faster, making online sales go up by 28% last year. This is generated by online store pick-up transactions. Large contractors' purchases have also increased by 9% percent, proving the same point.
6. Consumer expectations
Modern shoppers are fickle and very hard to impress, but impressing them is vital for retail success. Home Depot recognizes that there is never time to rest on laurels. As improvements continue and new ones are set for the future, this is what Home Depot hopes to accomplish:
- No out-of-stocks - this will be up to manufacturers and continuous problems might result in refusal to carry their brands at Home Depot stores and online. Out of stock means that consumers will look for those products somewhere else, causing sales loss for the retailer. There will be very little tolerance for it in the near future.
- Immediate answers to consumer questions - mobile inventory and app will enable store employees to know everything about the item and its availability immediately, which is expected in this day and age. Training will be provided to ensure the knowledge and willingness to help. Gone are days of employee chasing all over the store, they will come looking for shoppers now.
- Physical stores - yes, they are still very important as consumers often come to see and touch before making a purchase. Product placement and clarity are looked into and visual aids for construction projects and problem solutions are being added. People who are picking up their online orders will be able to find valuable resources and add-ons right at the front of the store. The key word here is anticipation, not reaction.
Finally, all those changes and improvements are needed to solidify the brand, the image of Home Depot as a valuable place, where you can return and get exactly what you need each and every time.