Home Depot


If you take a quick glance at the headlines today, it would seem that Amazon is the dominant brick-and-mortar store that attempts to enter the eCommerce space. But a closer look reveals that there are some retailers who are actually thriving and even winning in this new environment of increased competition. They outsmart the e-commerce giant at its own game. Home Depot is one such retailer.

While most people associate Home Depot with its bright orange logo, large warehouse-like stores, and huge logo, the number-one home-improvement retailer in the world deserves recognition for its digital progress. Although this progress was not celebrated with the same enthusiasm as Amazon’s, the numbers speak for themselves. Home Depot’s digital sales have increased by an astounding 762% over the past six years. Amazon’s product sales increased by 490% over the same time period in the North American market.

How did Home Depot become a household name and drive digital sales in a market that many others, such as Amazon, struggle to compete in?

A challenging category

Understanding the Home Depot home improvement category is essential to understanding how Home Depot has achieved its success.

Home Depot is a huge store with a wide range of products. The company stocks over half a billion individual products. There are over 7,000 variations of screws available. Many of these products aren’t common, everyday items that consumers instinctively buy. Others are highly technical and complex.

The combination of untold options and incomprehensible information can make it difficult for DIY professionals to purchase the right product. Home improvement is the most difficult retail sector for consumers.

This makes shopping in-store easier as customers can get expert advice immediately and can inspect the products in person to determine if they’re right for them. These benefits may be lost if you shop online.

The downside to ordering online is the slow delivery of products, especially if they are heavy and difficult to ship. Customers who are in need of home improvement products often order them immediately, especially if they have to make urgent repairs or complete a project in a short amount of time.

These are the main reasons that the growth in online sales of DIY products has slowed compared to other retail sectors. It is also why companies like Amazon have failed to make significant inroads into the category.

The Home Depot Difference

Home Depot is an exception to the general rule that online has not been a good place for home improvement. The company’s impressive e-commerce growth means that online sales now make up around 6.4% of its total revenue.

Home Depot‘s success has been attributed to two main factors:

Create an omnichannel strategy that combines online and offline stores

Continuous investment and improvement in the online shopping experience is essential to make it easy and intuitive to shop.

Omnichannel is crucial

Although some people see stores as a problem in an age where retail is increasingly online, Home Depot discovered that its 1,980 locations across the United States are a significant asset in its quest for growth online. These stores have helped it to overcome many of the challenges associated with selling DIY online.

One such issue is the need to deliver products immediately after they are purchased online. The solution for pure-play digital entrepreneurs is to create significant warehouse capacity or use expedited shipping options. However, the cost of these options is usually not passed on to the customer. For many low-value and infrequently used home improvement products, neither option is financially feasible.

Home Depot decided to use its stores as both warehouses for online stock and points of collection for orders online. Although this idea is simple in concept, it was difficult to implement. It required a complete overhaul of all systems to ensure that inventory could be managed across the entire business. This required changes in store management and operations. Staffing adjustments were also necessary. Also, it was necessary to reevaluate stock requirements and give more storage space to online orders.

Today, Home Depot collects 43% of its online orders in-store and returns over 90%. The company couldn’t conduct many of its online transactions without a link back to brick-and-mortar, which is something digital competitors like Amazon will struggle to copy.

Some Home Depot stores now offer 2-to-4-hour delivery for orders placed online, even for bulky items like lumber and building materials. This service is unmatched by other home improvement retailers.

An omnichannel strategy includes the ability to pick up and return online orders from stores, as well as having them delivered directly from stores. Brick-and-mortar shops also play an important role in driving online sales. For some categories, like appliances, shopping at the store is often the first step in a journey to buying online. Customers can visit the store to view products, get advice, and do research before making a purchase online. This is something that online sellers can’t duplicate, especially with Home Depot’s extensive knowledge in the DIY market.

Online convenience

Home Depot has made continuous online investments that have enabled it to build a website and mobile platform that are easy to use.

A lot of information is shared with customers for each product that they purchase online. The information shared with customers can be as simple as a bullet-point description or as detailed as a specification table. Additional information includes interactive questions and answers, product comparisons, and reviews.

Although such detailed information is necessary to guide customers through the vast array of products offered by Home Depot, it can be overwhelming. Home Depot avoided this problem by using a layout that incorporates navigation tools like tabs and accordion section sections. This allows the user to quickly navigate to their areas of interest without getting overwhelmed with information.

The website informs, but also inspires and teaches consumers through video tutorials that cover a variety of DIY projects and home design ideas.

The Home Depot website is much more than just a place to shop. It is an immersive experience that helps customers with the early stages of the buying process, such as research, planning, and ideation. These are essential elements of home improvement and Home Depot quickly became the preferred online destination for DIY customers.

Home Depot Lessons

Home Depot‘s success is a lesson for other retailers about how to survive and thrive in the digital age.

  • Understanding the buying process of consumers is key to optimizing product content for their needs.
  • Make sure that the product content is accurate and detailed enough for customers to make informed choices. If categories are not familiar, create buying guides to help customers understand the options.
  • Demonstrate deep knowledge about the sector or category in a way that is difficult for generalist retailers to duplicate.
  • To reassure and help other shoppers, incorporate user-generated content such as ratings, reviews, questions and answers, and questions.
  • To create seamless customer experiences online and in stores, integrate systems and use big data.
  • Home Depot has maintained its leadership position in home improvements, online and offline, by focusing on these areas. Home Depot’s success is an example to other retailers as Amazon grows in the distance.

Do you struggle to dominate a product category online? Do your products lack the depth and detail that your customers require to make informed buying decisions online and in-store? OneSpace has 5+ years of experience helping the world’s largest retailers achieve e-commerce success by transforming their manufacturer-provided product data into the rich digital content today’s customer’s demand. You can see how they do this.


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