Home Depot has been installing lockers in many of its locations so customers who place online orders can easily pick up their merchandise at the store.
According to USA Today, the move enables the retailer to get items to online customers right away instead of waiting for their purchases to be delivered to their home.
“Customers’ expectations with shopping are changing, and they want as many options as you can possibly give them,” Home Depot spokeswoman Lana Johnston said.
Home Depot isn’t the only retailer offering the service: Walmart is installing what it calls “pickup towers.” The 16-foot orange towers, which can hold about 300 items, offer a video screen where online purchasers swipe the order confirmation bar code from their phones, and a conveyor belt then delivers their merchandise to them.
Walmart has more than 250 pickup towers in stores and another 450 are expected to be installed by the end of 2018.
For its part, Home Depot hopes to have lockers in all its stores within three years. With 45 percent of its online orders picked up at stores, “the lockers allow us to simplify that process by providing customers with the convenience of self-service and time savings,” Johnston said.
“Installing lockers is another smart move by Home Depot and should help it maintain its lead over Amazon and others in the home improvement space,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData’s retail division. “As a sector, home improvement is not as digitally advanced as many others. However, online transactions are growing, and Home Depot is right to be investing in tools and infrastructure that will help it maintain an edge.”
Last month the company reported earnings per share of $2.08 and revenues of $25 billion compared to $2.06 and $25.2 billion, respectively — beating bottom-line, first-quarter earnings estimates, but falling short on its top-line revenues.
And while most retailers are dealing with increasing competition from Amazon, Home Depot isn’t worried. Home Depot’s CFO Carol Tomé pointed out that the home improvement giant is “not an item retailer. We are a project retailer. That is very different than selling consumable items. It’s just very different. We also help you when you have a problem. If your bathroom is leaking water, that’s a very different need than if you are trying to match a sweater to your eye color. And then housing is a good asset class. So do we have an Amazon-protected moat around our business? Of course not. But do we have barrier islands around our business? Yes, we do. Our job is to continue to invest in those barrier islands.”