ROLLING IN THE DEPOT
1 PLAS TIC ON THE FLY Every Home Depot associate is armed
with a “First phone,” a combo phone/walkie-talkie/scanner. Should the situation call
for it—such as with remote garden centers, Christmas-tree lots, or during busy
weekends—the unit can be outfitted with
a card reader and receipt printer so it can
accept credit and debit payments. Roughly
34,000 First devices will be in circulation.
MADER: “Both retailer and consumer feedback on mobile [checkout] has been outstanding. You’ll always need some checkout
terminals in case of Wi-Fi outages, but retailers are quickly moving in this direction.”
2 SCAN NO W, PAY LATER Not every First phone will be equipped
for mobile checkout, but that doesn’t mean
they can’t still contribute. When lines are
long, associates can scan all the items in
shoppers’ carts and hand them a card containing their purchase. All that remains is
giving the card to a cashier and settling up.
MADER: “This is an old technique, but an effective middle ground between traditional
checkouts and mobile ones—and a good
way to quickly process people using cash.”
GREGBUZEK, IHL GROUP: “It’s a good system to
have when the store is busy, especially since
any associate will be able to tally up a cart.”
The Home Depot deploys
an array of creative checkout
options designed to hustle
customers out the door faster.
BY NEIL JANOWITZ
“We don’t want anyone to have to wait in
line,” says Matt Carey, Home Depot’s CIO.
After all, the $70 billion big-box retailer
doesn’t ship plywood. Or cement. An island in a sea of e-commerce, Home Depot
remains largely an in-store experience.
That’s why it wants to provide a good one,
especially at the register.
To keep egress speedy, the company
has been aggressively outfitting its 2,253
stores with a quartet of checkout options.
“If you don’t give customers choices,”
says the National Retail Federation’s Richard Mader, one of two retail technology
analysts Fast Company asked to weigh
in, “they’ll go someplace that does.” Here’s
how Home Depot aims to retain.
3 LEAVE YOUR WALLE T IN THE CLOUD In January, Home Depot became the
first partner for PayPal’s foray into the
brick-and-mortar world. Payment terminals
at registers now offer a PayPal Wallet button, which enables consumers to pay with
any funding source that’s linked to their
PayPal account (see sidebar).
MADER: “Two to three years ago, nobody
talked about mobile payments. Now Google
and PayPal are leading the charge. The
fees collected by credit-card companies
amounted to $40 billion last year. That created a market for cheaper alternatives. Retailers want to minimize those fees.”
4 SEEYOURSELFOUT Home Depot was one of the first major retailers to introduce self-checkout, back
in 2003. Until 2010, neither hardware nor
software had been updated since. “We got
new units that process change much faster,
and software that’s more intuitive,” says
Carey. “The combination has made self-checkout as much as 30% faster.”
BUZEK: “Self-checkout is no longer sexy, but
deployment of units continues to grow at
10% a year. They get bad press for allegedly taking jobs, but Home Depot reassigns displaced cashiers to work in aisles,
where they can help customers—and
WHAT’S IN THEIR WALLET
The quick credit
Wallet users to
and switch payment methods
after the sale.
Scan a UPC code
and RedLaser will
shoppers to use
Milo or Where (see
below) to find
lower prices and
into Milo. It passes
the info to anyone
who fires up the
Where finds deals
then knows when
you’re at a participating retailer to
apply the savings.
Shoppers can pay
using a phone
number and PIN,
with charges applied to any linked
WALLE T cOMBINES SERvIcES