Here’s How The Home Depot Became an Omnichannel Titan

Brought to you by WBR Insights

Many would argue that the future of retail lies in omnichannel experiences. While some would take the position that physical retail is dead — or at best dying — the truth is that brick and mortar stores still have a significant role to play in the shopping experience.

However, to bring those experiences into the 21st century, more and more brands are having to incorporate elements of ecommerce into the physical retail space. People still want to visit brick and mortar stores, it’s true, but they also prefer it if those same stores can offer them some level of digital experience while they’re there. Digital tools help customers navigate their shopping experience with greater ease, as well as presenting stores with the opportunity to leverage new marketing and sales opportunities.

As one of the nation’s most recognizable brands, The Home Depot has been investing heavily in omnichannel experiences and is now starting to see the results.

The Home Depot

The Home Depot’s omnichannel strategy was born of a very simple realization — shopping in a physical store isn’t just necessary sometimes; it’s fun. While people love the convenience of logging onto Amazon, ordering the thing they want, and having it arrive on their doorstep the next day, they also enjoy the act of physically browsing a store’s inventory.

The Home Depot is a particularly good candidate for this as its stores are filled to the brim with hardware cubbies full of screws, fastenings, and more — and that’s before you even get to the tools section. However, while whiling away your time perusing The Home Depot’s vast inventory can be enjoyable, it can be even more fun when backed up by the very latest in digital technology. That’s why The Home Depot has been experimenting with everything from artificial intelligence to voice search and augmented reality.

“Marrying modern development processes with technology that enables fast feedback loops allows The Home Depot to take risks they might not have taken if they weren’t set-up to iterate quickly,” said Experience Developer for The Home Depot, Anthony McCulley. “Ultimately, these tools and practices nourish a culture of creativity, experimentation and allow for fast changes and tight feedback loops. The Home Depot currently has 4,000 apps or services in production” 

This culture of creativity allows The Home Depot to throw all manner of digital innovations at the wall and see what sticks. By adopting a “try anything once” mentality, The Home Depot doesn’t limit itself and opens itself up to many more possibilities than if it adopted a more cautious approach.

Digital Technology

It all begins with The Home Depot’s innovative smartphone app which helps consumers find and purchase products quickly in a variety of ways. It’s packed with robust and useful features, including image-based product search and navigation that helps shoppers locate specific items when visiting a store.

If a customer sees a product they like the look of — even outside of a Home Depot store — they can take a picture of it and use The Home Depot’s image search feature to locate similar items. How many of us have been carrying out some home improvements only to find we need to replace a component and must spend ages scrolling through inventory to find the right one? The Home Depot’s image search solves this problem.

Once at the store, the app’s built-in navigation functionality will take you straight to the aisle where the part is located, helping you avoid wandering around aimlessly for ages or having to find an associate to help you. This technology is great because, if you want to wander the store and browse everything it has to offer, you are free to. However, if you know the part you need and just want to grab it and get moving, the technology is there to help you and goes someway to mirroring the convenience of platforms such as Amazon, albeit in a physical space.

The app also has features such as live chat — to help customers access expert advice at any time — detailed product information and click-and-collect features. With so many innovations in development at The Home Depot, we’ll likely see many more features added in the future.

Final Thoughts

Bringing together the worlds of ecommerce and physical retail is no mean feat and must always be approached with the customer experience in full view. The Home Depot understands this all too well and each feature in its omnichannel offering is designed with this in mind.


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