Home Depot redesigned its mobile site and mobile app last year to offer more customized shopping experiences, and those efforts seem to be paying off in a big way. This Black Friday, the home improvement chain, which has over 2,200 stores across the U.S., saw mobile traffic outpace desktop traffic, said Prat Vemana, vp of online for Home Depot, declining to disclose specific sales numbers.
Account logins and image-based searches, which account for thousands of mobile queries per week, have largely increased since the redesign as well, he said.
Meanwhile, Forrester found in its “Retail Wave” report for the fourth quarter of 2017 that in terms of mobile website experience, Home Depot outperforms 11 other major retailers — including Best Buy, Walmart and Macy’s — analyzed in the report. Home Depot scored 87 out of 100 in usability, the only retailer analyzed that broke into the 80s. (Scores are based on two Forrester analysts’ reviews on mobile site functionality and usability.)
Brendan Miller, a principal analyst for Forrester who co-authored the report, thinks that Home Depot’s mobile website streamlines important tasks for the shopper with single-page checkout and easy-to-find assistance like live chat, while many retailers neglect the importance of a mobile site.
“Home Depot did a better job overall than other retailers in connecting its local inventory with consumers on mobile. For example, its mobile site allows shoppers to see what’s available and how many are available in store,” said Miller. “Home Depot also customizes promotions based on the local — people in Denver see different mobile offers than people in Florida.”
In the third quarter of this year, Home Depot’s online sales increased by 19 percent, representing approximately 6.2 percent of its total quarterly sales of $25 billion, said Craig Menear, CEO of Home Depot, in the company’s earnings call this month. Much of that is driven by mobile, which represents around 50 percent of Home Depot’s overall online traffic and nearly 45 percent of Home Depot’s online orders in the U.S. picked up in its stores, according to Vemana.
For Home Depot, mobile is not a one-off project. Since how customers shop constantly changes — their search behavior may shift from text-based to image-based to voice-based, for instance — Home Depot’s mobile developments need to keep up with those changes, said Vemana.
“We always keep our mobile design fresh. The homepage of our new mobile site and mobile app is completely customized based on who a user is — a DIY customer or a Pro customer [professional shoppers like property managers and service contractors] — and how active the person is,” Vemana said. “We have also moved our mobile developments to be cloud-based, so mobile pages can load faster.”
Home Depot’s revamped mobile app highlights engaging features like barcode search, voice search and visual search. When a user walks into a Home Depot store, the app will automatically switch to in-store mode. Then, the shopper can use the app to navigate to the aisle in which a product is located. Home Depot also works with Adobe on mobile analytics, geofencing and mobile content optimization to drive offline sales and in-store pickups.
“Our core mobile strategy is focused on our customers’ needs,” Vemana said. “It’s all about how to make their shopping experience easier and consistent across desktop, mobile and in the store.”
Augmented reality is an area that Home Depot is looking to improve. Its competitor Lowe’s recently introduced Lowe’s Vision, an in-store navigation app that uses Google’s Tango AR tech to let shoppers in Sunnyvale, California, and Lynnwood, Washington, search for products, add them to a shopping list and locate them within stores using AR. Home Depot has already let shoppers place virtual products in the real world through its shopping app, but it doesn’t plan to develop a navigation app like Lowe’s Vision anytime soon.
“There’s good engagement in AR, and we are working on the tech in various ways,” Vemana said.
Image via Home Depot’s company website