Home Depot to embrace e-commerce

The Home Depot Plans to Make its E-commerce Site part of a multichannel retail machine, according to Michael Cooper, the home improvement merchant’s vice president of specialty channels. Some might say it’s about time.

“We’re going to come into the ‘90s, allow returns in the stores, and allow store gift cards to be used as tender online,” Cooper said lightheartedly during a keynote speech at eTail 2009, held in Baltimore last month. Then he explained why the project is going to take some time.

“It will require modification of 15 legacy systems,” Cooper noted. “And that goes all the way down to the store’s POS systems. But the more we can convince the powers that be that the multichannel shopper is more valuable than the store shopper, the easier it will be to get the job done.”

How’s that coming along? Better than you might think. Back in 2007, Home Depot considered outsourcing its Web channel.

But today, “we’re sitting here with the CFO, CIO and all the EVPs and opening the discussions about what we can do,” Cooper said. “That for me is a big step forward.”

And Home Depot CEO Frank Blake is completely behind the mission. “[Blake] says that if there’s anything we screwed up in 2007 it’s our e-commerce channel,” Cooper said.

“He says that 10 years from now, experts will look back and hope we figured out how to fix it. That gives me a clear understanding that he knows the importance of the channel.”

AS PART OF THE E-COMMERCE TURNAROUND, MICHAEL COOPER HAS DEFINED THREE ROLES FOR HOMEDEPOT.COM:

MEDIA CHANNELHOMEDEPOT.COM NEEDS TO RELAY THE SAME MESSAGE ACROSS E-COMMERCE AS IT DOES IN OTHER MEDIA, SUCH AS BROADCAST AND PRINT ADVERTISEMENTS.

”DIGITAL ORANGE APRON” — THE SITE NEEDS TO CONTINUE TO BE A HOW-TO DESTINATION FOR DO-IT-YOURSELFERS WHO HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT A REPAIR OR REMODELING JOB.

E-COMMERCE — A ROBUST ONLINE BUSINESS WILL DRIVE TRAFFIC TO THE STORES — IF HOME DEPOT KEEPS THE CUSTOMER IN MIND AND DIFFERENTIATES ITSELF FROM RIVALS.

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