February 15, 2011, 10:12 AM

How Home Depot provides consistency, in-store and online

45% of in-store visitors pay a visit to HomeDepot.com first, making multichannel efforts vital.

Lead Photo

Hal Lawton speaking today at IRWD 2011.

The Home Depot Inc. runs a complex business. It gets more than 8 million visitors per week to HomeDepot.com and operates 2,200 store locations, making it the world’s largest home improvement store. With the tagline, “You can do it, we can help,” consumers look to the retailer to deliver on that promise, said Hal Lawton, president of Home Depot Online, during his keynote presentation this morning at the Internet Retailer Web Design & Usability Conference 2011.

“Consumers expect Home Depot to solve their problems either in-store or online,” he said, which requires that Home Depot deliver a consistent experience across channels. “Our goal is that there is zero channel conflict with a consumer,” he said.

Lawton said 45% of store visitors pay a visit to HomeDepot.com first, so it is clear that experiences that they have with the e-retailer online influence their next steps. He said that the retailer is able to localize web content 95% of the time so that consumers get the most accurate pricing and inventory for stores in their area. This is especially important because Home Depot uses regional pricing, meaning that the price for a hammer in Orlando might be different than the price of the same hammer in Ann Arbor, MI. Lawton says Home Depot and HomeDepot.com manages prices this way in 200 markets. “When we show it to them on their phone, iPad or PC, we try to map it to the store we think they’ll visit,” he said. “We make sure that the price we are showing in the site is what they’ll see in store.”

Lawton said one of his goals is to make sure HomeDepot.com is a “material source of growth” for the company, regardless of whether those sales take place on the web site or in a Home Depot store. To that end, Home Depot makes associates responsible for sales in both channels. For example, an appliance manager’s compensation and performance is partly based on sales in the store where he works and online deliveries to the surrounding area, Lawton said. Lawton said HomeDepot.com has 22% market share for appliances sold online, while Home Depot stores claim 11% of in-store appliance sales. For in-store appliance managers, that may mean they point a customer online for a particular appliance that isn’t stocked in the store, as the retailer has an appliance inventory online that is 15 times larger than in stores.

HomeDepot.com’s latest site design launched in May and Lawton says it delivers content that further fulfills Home Depot’s promise to help do-it-yourselfers. The site is stocked with videos, how-to guides and consumer forums that provide answers customers need to make informed purchases about the home projects they want to tackle. There are three to five project-oriented videos posted on the home page at any given time, for example, and customer reviews get prominent placement on product detail pages. Lawton says consumer reviews are the second-most clicked-on feature on a product page, after the image.

Home Depot is No. 39 on Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.

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