It’s always interesting when a well-established company that has carved out a perch atop any particular industry after years of success starts shaking things up and changing parts of their operations. Particularly in the world of retail and online shopping, good businesses find ways to adapt to changing climates and consumer expectations.
So it should come as no surprise that Home Depot (HD), already considered by many to be the best home improvement retailer out there, has recently re-launched its website and online shopping portal after a nearly eight-month redesign.
Launched just prior to the recent Memorial Day holiday weekend (well-timed for those homeowners starting their summer renovations), the redesigned site has a host of new features and is designed to get visitors—from casual homeowners to professional contractors and builders—to the information and products they need more quickly.
Home Depot employed a number of measures to determine how best to tackle the site redesign, including consumer comments, service center calls and customer satisfaction surveys. In the end, it became apparent that shoppers weren’t always looking for the lowest price on particular items. They needed tips and ideas on the projects they were undertaking as well.
“In the last three years we noticed that 17 percent of all visits to home improvement e-commerce sites were from visitors researching a ‘how-to’ project and now that figure is about 40 percent,” says Hal Lawton, the company’s online president. “The new redesign reflects better ways to help customers solve problems, research projects and find what they want quickly and easily.”
The chief goal of the redesign was to combine better and more diverse content with simpler navigation. The updated homepage features a larger navigation bar and a reorganized drop-down list of 16 major product categories. The search box has been enlarged, moved to a more prominent position, and delivers results sorted by product category, brand names, project guides and several other keywords.
A re-worked “How-To” area provides visitors with access to featured products, current promotions, sales associate project tips and even helpful project videos on a new video player. The new video system is aimed at accommodating shoppers with larger computer screens and higher resolution video capabilities for an even better effect.
Customers can also buy and redeem gift cards and set up merchandise returns for anything bought in actual Home Depot stores on the site now. There are plans to incorporate a new payment option from PayPal down the road as well.
All of these big changes for a company that reported e-commerce sales of $500 million last year! If Home Depot is that serious about keeping their customers happy after such a successful year, it should give smaller retailers and e-merchants plenty to think about with their own sites and operations.
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