In store. Online. The Home Depot inspires the entire experience.
Faster to deliver personalized experiences
Increase in personalized campaigns
Of online orders made by using buy online, pick up in store
“By unifying our data, we started waking up to the fact that our customers' trust is an extraordinarily valuable asset. They were telling us exactly what they were looking for, and we needed to be more aligned with ways to help them.”
Vice President of Integrated Media, The Home Depot
Never sitting still
In 1978, Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank saw an opportunity. They’d lost their jobs at a hardware store and were sitting in a coffee shop, dreaming up an idea for a new and better home improvement company. Theirs would have a wider variety of products and highly skilled associates who could help with any project, at any skill level. Shortly after, that dream would become The Home Depot.
The Home Depot has grown into the fifth largest ecommerce site in the world, offering millions of products and achieving $151 billion dollars in annual revenue in 2021. As vice president of integrated media, Melanie Babcock has led the way in embracing how the core values of The Home Depot fit into today’s digital economy.
“Customers come to The Home Depot to solve a problem,” says Babcock. “This behavior is the commonality across all of our customers, so we need to speak to them in ways that match the amount of help that they need.”
As ecommerce expanded, The Home Depot realized it needed to create a unified customer experience online and in stores. The goal was to help customers quickly find the right information and the right product, whether they’re browsing on the website or walking the aisles of their local store. And beyond helping customers find a specific drill bit or door handle, the home improvement retailer’s leadership team set out to redefine the overall customer experience. It envisioned delivering the right information and inspiration at every stage in a customer’s project.
Bringing ideas to life
With the lines blurred between in-store and online shopping, The Home Depot first needed a way to better engage with customers. It created a solution that takes advantage of something almost every customer already has — a mobile phone.
Customers can input their lists into The Home Depot’s award-winning mobile app. Once they reach the store, the app directs them to the right aisle and bin number to find the right kitchen faucet, sledgehammer, or a tube of adhesive. From the same screen, customers can read reviews, follow how-to videos, and get product details.
And because the team prototyped the app based on customer feedback, it also added a few other impressive details. Customers can search by voice using natural language, just as they would when asking a question to a store associate. They can take a picture of their old broken part, and technology powered by Adobe Sensei will search for the right product to match. With some products, customers can use virtual reality to see how the product will look in a real environment, like a fan light in their living room. And the virtual reality experience doesn’t stop there.
The Home Depot launched its ProjectColor app to allow customers to find the perfect paint color for their interior or exterior paint projects, right from their phones. Once they’ve found the ideal shade of navy blue or racing green, augmented reality helps customers imagine how it’ll look on the walls of their living rooms, bedrooms, or exterior spaces. And if a customer loves a color they noticed on a funky piece of street art, they can simply take a picture and find the closest paint color available at The Home Depot.
To achieve a consistent look and feel across customer journeys, The Home Depot creative team also uses a powerful suite of Adobe products, including Creative Cloud for enterprise, XD, and Adobe Stock. “We use XD for our home page, for our category pages, and for our email team,” says Mahew Jansick, director of online creative. The team also uses XD to create its interactive Home Decorators Collection catalog. This experience allows customers to explore products online by clicking on them directly within virtual design spaces. To manage the company workflows, it uses Adobe Workfront, which allowed its creative team to increase the number of completed how-to DIY guides by 286% in one year.
“Our customers are smart, savvy shoppers,” says Jansick. “With an interconnected experience, we’re able to cascade messages, design standards, ideas, and promotions both big and small to all our customers — whether they shop online or in our stores.”
Digging into the data
The Home Depot believes in a data-driven model to find customer insights, so it then shifted focus to gathering all customer data into unified customer profiles.
“Instead of separating metrics from online and offline channels, we focused our attention on capturing everything including website activity, in-store sales, call center volume, return volume, order cancellations, and much more, which now enables us to make the best decisions to improve the shopper experience across all touchpoints,” says Ranjeet Bhosale, vice president of customer marketing and operations. Now, The Home Depot can see a unified profile of its customers using Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform, powered by Adobe Experience Platform.
Whether a customer is looking for new kitchen appliances or to completely redesign their bathroom, their online behavior gets captured as real-time signals by Adobe Analytics. From there, this data about “what they do” is combined with “who they are” in Real-Time CDP. Marketers at The Home Depot can use these profiles to understand what projects customers are working on and segment them into hundreds of unique audiences. These high-value segments help The Home Depot deliver more relevant experiences through media campaigns and customer journeys in digital channels.
“Not only are customers benefitting from streamlined, personalized experiences,” says Bhosale. “But with Real-Time CDP, The Home Depot can now act on insights across channels to provide customers with deals, relevant messaging, and inspiration for their projects.”
Those experiences are not only personalized — they’re delivered faster, too. Previously, it could take up to 10 days to establish new experiences for customers based on their previous buying and search activity. Days could go by before a customer who purchased flowers for their landscaping would see messaging for relevant add-on products like plant fertilizer. While The Home Depot manages data for a staggering 170 million profiles, the team now uses artificial intelligence to build audience segments and push the right experiences out to the right customers in as little as 24 hours.
Using Adobe Customer Journey Analytics, the marketing team can now also understand how customers are engaging with The Home Depot before they make a purchase online or in store. By harnessing real-time data, it can learn which touchpoints and experiences have been most engaging along a customer’s journey. From there, The Home Depot can then suggest the nearest in-store location for a customer to pick up relevant products by harnessing geolocation data from their profile.
The success is in the numbers. Creating these unified profiles has helped The Home Depot increase its personalized campaigns by 62% year over year. The marketing team is empowered to deliver just the right experiences while customers feel more inspired to tackle their next home project.
“Not only are customers benefitting from streamlined, personalized experiences, but with Real-Time CDP, The Home Depot can now act on insights across channels to provide customers with deals, relevant messaging, and inspiration for their projects.”
Vice President of Customer Marketing and Operations, The Home Depot
Nailing down the customer journey
Up until a few years ago, The Home Depot focused its marketing on products and departments. For example, all customers would receive messaging for grills during the summer months. While organizing this way made sense in some ways, The Home Depot decided to focus instead on the customer experience.
“We realized customers’ shopping behaviors are not solely focused on shopping a single department or season,” says Babcock. “Customers are looking holistically at the entire offering of The Home Depot. When they’re focused on a project, they can be inspired to look beyond an initial search whether they’re online or in store.”
With the customer in mind, Babcock led the change. Instead of delivering product-based messaging, The Home Depot now has a customer-based strategy that’s focused on three kinds of journeys — the project-based customer, the item buyer, and the contractor.
Babcock’s teams use Real-Time CDP to identify a customer’s journey based on their behaviors. The Home Depot now suggests, for example, a brand of appliance that meets the search behaviors of a customer in the middle of a kitchen renovation project. An item buyer who recently purchased vinyl plank flooring might be recommended a floor cleaner, while a contractor is encouraged to join the loyalty program to get deals specific to their trade.
By activating relevant segments in Adobe Audience Manager through Real-Time CDP, marketers can make sure their advertising strategies are targeting the right audiences using relevant channels. To make sure customers are delivered the right experiences, The Home Depot uses Adobe Target to quickly test offers, promotions, and web designs. All these efforts combine to constantly improve online experiences and get information to customers faster.
“We wanted to help the customer see that they could buy the whole project from The Home Depot, not just the bathroom faucet they had been looking for,” says Babcock. “It challenged us to rethink our media strategies to follow how customers move across our aisles and to shift our focus to the horizon of time it might take to complete a home improvement project.”
“Adobe Experience Platform acts as a foundation for our personalization efforts while also empowering organizational efficiency, strict data governances, and privacy controls to help us achieve customer-based marketing and personalization at scale.”
Vice President of Integrated Media, The Home Depot
Creating these unified profiles using Real-Time CDP has also enabled The Home Depot to enhance its governance around customer data. This allowed IT resources to be freed up to tackle more complex data strategies. Instead of relying on ad destinations like Facebook to decide which customers should receive which experiences, The Home Depot now creates its own audience currency to decide precisely how experiences get distributed across different journeys. These efficiencies helped The Home Depot increase marketing productivity by over 50% year over year.
“Adobe Experience Platform acts as a foundation for our personalization efforts while also empowering organizational efficiency, strict data governances, and privacy controls to help us achieve customer-based marketing and personalization at scale,” says Babcock.
A job well done
There’s no better feeling than a job well done. For Babcock, this has recently meant receiving the 2022 Adobe Experience Maker Executive of the Year for leading her teams through The Home Depot’s shift to data-driven customer journeys. While the marketing teams had to find footing within this new strategy, Babcock created an environment that allows The Home Depot team to thrive in its new focus areas.
“We give our associates opportunities to grow their skillsets, learn, and make mistakes in a safe way. It gives people a sigh of relief to transform themselves. And that means the world to me.”
Babcock’s focus on the customer also reshaped the checkout journey to fit their needs. Today, nearly 55% of online orders are made using buy online, pick up in store. The Home Depot uses Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target to create a seamless experience for customers to pick up online orders from lockers at the front of the store, and around 20% of shoppers make additional purchases during the same visit.
With its newly personalized experiences, The Home Depot has seen a 14% increase in net sales year over year — coming a long way since its humble beginnings as an idea in a coffee shop to deliver a seamless online and in-store experiences that help customers with every home improvement project.
“At the heart of our transformation is the power of data and the trusted relationship The Home Depot has built with its customers,” says Babcock. “With Adobe Real-Time CDP and Adobe Experience Platform, we now provide much more relevant, targeted messaging to inspire millions of customers.”
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