Home Depot's mobile app drives sales in store and out

Home improvement retailer Home Depot (NYSE:HD) is improving the shopping experience with an app designed to help shoppers before and during store visits, using location services and augmented reality.

The retailer had 1.5 billion website visits in 2015, with more than half coming from mobile devices. On Black Friday there were 941,000 mobile Web page views in a single hour, according to the company.

Traffic is coming from inside the store and out. An augmented reality tool lets users visualize items in their own homes or yards, and visual search lets shoppers take a photo with a mobile device and search for exact or similar items in Home Depot's inventory.

The app senses when a shopper enters a Home Depot store and switches to in-store mode to utilize more precise search features, locating items down to the exact aisle and bay in that store. Text and voice search is enabled, and voice searches now total more than 300,000 per month, according to the company.

Real-time inventory availability, endless aisle inventory, ratings and reviews, and in-store locators are among the most-accessed features.

"Our customers have consistently told us [the app] makes it easier to find product in store," said Matt Jones, general manager of mobile. "Customer data was really our north star."

All apps are not created equal, and Home Depot's is created primarily to help shoppers visualize and locate items. The app provides the exact layout of the specific store the customer is in, since not all locations are laid out the same. Associates are also using the app's features to assist customers while shopping.

The app was built mostly in-house to allow more control over the end result, said Jones. And while many retailers are developing mobile solutions expressly to reach millennials, Home Depot's net is cast wider. "This is not prescriptive to a strategy of getting younger customers," he said. "We want to make all our customers aware that we've got these interconnected tools."

More features are to come, many developed and honed with input from shoppers, said Jones. "In order for omnichannel to work, it requires connecting components in our company," he said. "We will find ways to innovate as well and take some risk."
For more:
-See this Home Depot blog post

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