October 21, 2010, 12:54 PM

HomeDepot.com adds the personal touch

The site features more localization and personalization.

Mark Brohan

Research Director

Lead Photo

Hal Lawton

Having framed the ground floor of its redesigned e-commerce site, Home Depot Inc. is making personalization a big part of building up the site’s next level.

In May, Home Depot, No. 39 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, debuted a revamped web site that get do-it-yourselfers, contractors and others more quickly to a lot more information and easier shopping.

Now Home Depot is building in more advanced features such as personalization, says Hal Lawton, Home Depot president of online. As one part of its more personalized approach to e-commerce, HomeDepot.com now features automatic localization based on a site visitor’s Internet Protocol address. When a shopper logs on to HomeDepot.com, the site recognizes his IP address and customizes the home page with the closest store and that location’s featured items and current inventory.

“If you go on most retailers’ sites, they’ll ask you to enter your ZIP code to localize you to a store,” Lawton says. “We actually sniff the IP address of a visitor when they come on our site, and over 90% of our visitors we localize to a store based on the IP address of their computer versus having to ask them.”

While many retailers don’t understand the need to localize, Home Depot saw the advantage of doing so as soon as consumers landed on its site, Lawton says. “Most retailers end up localizing their customers well into the shopping process, and you create significant disappointment by showing a product that they aren’t able to purchase either online or at the store,” he says.

Home Depot also recently added a merchandise recommendation engine from Certona Corp. that generates product suggestions based on a shopper’s past purchase history and behavioral patterns. “When they come to us for advice on a project and the products they need to purchase to complete the job, we want the web site to deliver a very specific experience,” says Lawton.

Lawton will deliver the keynote address at the Internet Retailer Web Design & Usability Conference Feb. 14-16, 2011 in Orlando, FL, in a session titled: Designing for the Post-Recession Consumer

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