by Kurt Schroeder and John Seeds
2020 was a make or break year for many brands, with many suddenly adjusting their operations after comfortably utilizing the same business model for years. Faced with an adopt-or-die scenario, some traditionally brick-and-mortar retailers began pushing their businesses online, while others met newly evolved customer needs by increasing their pickup and delivery options.
As COVID-19 forced customers inside their homes, many markets saw an unexpected increase in sales, as well as the opportunity to develop new customer relationships. For The Home Depot, Inc., commonly known as Home Depot, an increased focus on DIY home improvement during the pandemic forced an evolution of their conventional business model and operations.
With customers stuck at home, and suddenly finding the time or motivation to complete the home improvement projects they had previously been putting off, Home Depot’s customer base massively expanded in 2020. In their second-quarter sales report, Home Depot reported a 23% increase in revenue compared to 2019, and the home improvement retailer moved quickly to roll out a mobile app and real-time tracking systems to handle the unexpected surge in business.
Embracing a Year-Long Black Friday
When Home Depot’s Chief Information Officer, Matt Carey, spoke with The Wall Street Journal, he noted that the traffic from COVID-19 “was like Black Friday every day.” This level of traffic completely changed their anticipated pandemic response plans, forcing an emphasis on fulfilling a heightened volume of orders instead of finding ways to attract new customers to online purchasing opportunities.
Home Depot’s ability to adapt very much rested on the technology they had already invested in, and because of this, the deployment time was much quicker. Their online store had previously moved to the cloud, allowing them to handle the volume of sales they began receiving during the pandemic-driven DIY rush. The retailer also immediately deployed an app that has continually been updated to improve the customer experience of picking up at a physical store with features like location-based tracking, automatically notifying a physical store when a customer arrives in their lot.
Adapting an Annual Tradition
In addition to ensuring that their technology and operations could support the increased pandemic traffic, Home Dept also chose to adapt their Black Friday sale. Instead of focusing on in-store deals the day of, the retailer pushed many of the deals online, and kicked off a month-long sale starting November 6.
This year, Home Depot’s efforts around Black Friday sales are less focused on maximizing profit and more focused on maintaining the safety of their employees and customers.
Due to the continued popularity of their in-store shopping experience, Home Depot also made the decision to leverage their physical space to promote social distancing during their Black Friday event. By spreading sale products throughout the store and utilizing areas such as the end cap displays for holiday-related products, the retailer quickly put a plan in place to maximize customer safety. By pairing their physical safety measures with their continued curbside pick-up, Home Depot made a good-faith effort to alleviate stress from in-store traffic while maintaining the tradition of their popular sales event.
Transforming Customer Relationships in a Pandemic
2020 was far from a typical year for most brands, but the unexpected upset took business in a surprising direction for Home Depot. Because buyer behavior changed in the wake of COVID-19, the home improvement retailer was able to leverage their digital platforms and build relationships with customers who had never needed their products or services before. Now, the Home Depot mobile app and website have become the new front door for many home improvement novices.
As a result of these digital platforms being implemented, access to customer feedback has also grown exponentially. This new wealth of information has allowed Home Depot to respond to parts of their business in which customers experience tension, and create frictionless experiences instead – resulting in customers continuing to come back as they move from their first home improvement project to their fifth.
In addition to creating a new digital front door, Home Depot also continues to invest in digital capabilities like AI and natural-language processing, which help novice do-it-yourselfers learn more about the projects they are taking on. At Avtex, we love seeing businesses like Home Depot embrace technology that can completely transform their business, and we see the impact of strategies like this with our clients and their customers every day. Our team believes that better customer experiences come from leveraging innovative technology solutions to meet the needs of your customer.
If your business is looking to expand its digital capabilities, whether by transitioning your contact center to the cloud, deploying a customer-friendly app, or utilizing AI in your business, Avtex is ready to jump in with you.