Customer Experience Featured Article

A Smoother Shopping Trip At Home Depot May Be Ahead

May 27, 2014

While most people don't dread a trip to Home Depot—indeed, some find it a relaxing excursion to browse the latest in tools and home improvement paraphernalia—there are those who'd rather not go through the slings and arrows of the whole thing, especially the special order process. But Home Depot is prepared to step up its operations with plans to bring in a new customer order management system (COMS), designed to be a smoother and more transparent ordering process for its users.

Home Depot recently tested out its new COMS operation in its first store, and plans are that the entirety of Home Depot's stores will have the new COMS in place by the end of the year. This is designed in a bid to capitalize on some impressive sales numbers for Home Depot's online operations; in the first quarter, it saw growth of nearly 40 percent on the strength of fully three million visits a day, as well as steadily increasing conversion rates.

One of the biggest changes that the new COMS brings to the table is that, with it in place, users can quickly see the status of the order at just about any given time. Some orders need to be specially manufactured, and that status can be seen just as readily as the status of an order that needs to be brought in from another shop, at last report. With that improved visibility into the process of an order, the customer service staff can provide better answers to customers with questions, and give customers an overall better experience. Even better, the status of said order can be seen regardless of location; for those customers in Los Angeles who travel to New York, the order placed in Los Angeles can be seen in New York as readily as if it were placed in New York.

Home Depot has already seen the benefits of bringing in more sales channels; not only is its online operation doing well, so too is its use of kiosk technology in store locations. With the kiosks, customers have been reportedly engaging in the use of said devices alone to determine interest, acting as what's called an “assisted sale.” This is lending a note of improvement to Home Depot's operations, especially considering how the first quarter presented challenges to retail operations, particularly in terms of weather.

Home Depot seems to be embracing a plan that's proving quite smart, at least for Home Depot: to open as many channels as possible offering the customer more choice in terms of how a transaction is carried out, but also the visibility of the progress of that transaction—at nearly every point in the transaction. That's the kind of thing that has to be sitting well with customers, who undoubtedly welcome the decreased uncertainty and improved understanding.

Will this work for Home Depot? Only time will really tell, but given how well its similar strategies have been working so far it's a safe bet to say it will be well-received. Will others follow in its footsteps? Likewise, only time will tell, but a competitive advantage that can be replicated in other firms commonly is, so we may well see some changes in other home improvement superstores before it's all said and done.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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