Will lockers transform Home Depot’s BOPIS operations?

Discussion
Photo: The Home Depot
Jul 10, 2018
Matthew Stern

Home Depot plans to install pickup lockers near the front of all of its stores in an effort to improve its buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) operations and become bottleneck free.

When Home Depot’s BOPIS customers arrive to pick up orders, they will be directed to the orange lockers, according to USA Today, where they will collect their product from the correct locker and leave without the need for associate assistance. While the chain has had such lockers in some locations since 2016, management is now aggressively rolling out the strategy with plans to have them in all stores by 2021.   

By the end of last year, nearly 45 percent of Home Depot’s online orders were picked up in-store, making BOPIS services an important area of focus for the chain.

The extent to which the lockers will streamline the pickup process, however, could depend on product size.

While Amazon lockers have proven good for facilitating the pickup of smaller items, Home Depot is often a destination for bulky items like lumber and appliances, which would not fit in a standard-sized locker.

The chain-wide locker rollout comes among numerous other Home Depot moves to up its omnichannel game. Earlier this year, the chain announced a list of supply chain improvements aimed at increasing the speed of delivery. Those included the building of 170 distribution facilities, 40 flatbed distribution centers for products purchased by professional construction customers and 100 new market delivery operation centers to facilitate home delivery. By the end of this five-year period of expansion, the chain hopes to be able to make same- or next-day deliveries to more than 90 percent of the U.S. population.

Home Depot has also made recent moves into offering home goods beyond the home improvement category. Early this year the chain acquired The Company Store, a bedding and bath-related online seller with a product offering and customer base similar to Bed, Bath & Beyond. 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you see as the pros and cons of Home Depot’s chainwide BOPIS lockers strategy? How do you expect Lowe’s, Menard’s and other competitors to respond?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Knowing that my BOPIS order will be easier at Home Depot may influence my decision to shop there instead of their competitors."
"For a retailer like Home Depot, I can see more and more customers using this service and loving it. It just comes across as more than BOPIS to me."
"While the strategy makes sense for many retailers, how the final steps of delivery are implemented should be customized for each retailer."

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22 Comments on "Will lockers transform Home Depot’s BOPIS operations?"


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Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

Lockers for BOPIS makes total sense for Home Depot because yes, pickup is a bottleneck there. I use BOPIS there more than anywhere and aside from waiting for available staff, they have a clumsy manual procedure that staff execute slowly. Lockers — if they don’t require a mobile app — can make that painless and quick, especially if they can create a five-minute grab-and-go parking zone.

Solving the large-item locker issue is nothing.

Joel Rubinson
BrainTrust

Here is why I think the lockers for Home Depot make so much sense — those stores are so enormous that the store layout is horrible for 95 percent of people walking into the store! I say this because you walk in on a mission and the chance that you are looking for light bulbs or something barbecue-related is small, because so much else is in the store. What the lockers do is make the store layout perfect for each individual shopper! You have ordered exactly what you want and it is right there in front of you! So don’t think of this as BOPIS, think of this as customized store layout.

Now along those lines, what else could be done? First, insert a flyer for the exact location in the store of that type of product so if you want to change your mind, you immediately see options. Second, have a greeter right there to make sure you are happy with your purchase.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

The pickup lockers work well for smaller items (as pointed out in the article). Large items will continue to require human assistance. The lockers will alleviate part of the waiting time, reduce labor costs and make the experience more expedient for a good number of retail customers. Conversely, the concept may also decrease the number of impulse purchases. The lockers are an overall good idea that competitors of Home Depot will no doubt emulate.

Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

BOPIS and impulse purchases are mostly mutually exclusive. Lockers won’t have any effect.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Guest

I hope those lockers will be located outside the store to enable after hours access by customers. Whatever can better serve building trades and DIYers is welcome news. Lack of materials should never stall a project. Mistakes are always the biggest project cost, but a close second is the effort required to get needed materials to a work site. Lockers are a minor improvement that demonstrates a commitment to service. Others will surely follow.

Sterling Hawkins
BrainTrust

Super smart if the lockers are outside the store for after hours access! Regardless, I like the strategy as it saves the time traversing the store if you know exactly what you want. The lockers must be seeing enough engagement to justify the rollout and I’m sure Home Depot is looking for what’s next to build on their service goals.

Max Goldberg
Guest

BOPIS lockers are a great idea for smaller items but, as the article says, many of the items sold by Home Depot won’t fit in a locker, necessitating waiting in line for a sales associate. Home Depot is willing to try new things — they were one of the first home improvement stores to widely implement self-checkout. Their competitors are watching and will, no doubt, copy what they perceive as success.

Chris Petersen, PhD.
BrainTrust

Lockers are becoming the new “required” for BOPIS. In the case of Home Depot’s enormous stores they will work great if they are readily accessible, especially if they are outside. However, none of my last purchases at Home Depot would fit in the lockers as pictured. DIY stores are unique with products of many shapes and sizes.

If the lockers are intended to make up for poor processes or lack of staff, then they are only a Band-Aid that do not address systemic issues which impact customer experience.

Bill Hanifin
BrainTrust

The Home Depot locker strategy makes sense for the DIY chain, but also should become a standard for many other retailers. The locker meets the need to satisfy a well-documented customer use case, therefore is a worthwhile investment.

While the strategy makes sense for many retailers, how the final steps of delivery are implemented should be customized for each retailer. For some, lockers are the answer. For others, a personal touch where an associate has quick access to the item and can bring added value to the delivery might work better.

My only regret about the topic is now we have yet another acronym to add to our marketing vocabulary (small joke).

David Naumann
BrainTrust
David Naumann
Vice President, Retail Marketing, enVista
1 year 5 days ago

Overall I think BOPIS lockers are a good idea, as they make pick-up of online orders frictionless. One of the most frustrating aspects of BOPIS is waiting in a slow line at stores to pick up your items. Knowing that my BOPIS order will be easier at Home Depot may influence my decision to shop there instead of their competitors.

The potential downside of the lockers is that shoppers may just pick up their order and leave. If customers don’t enter their store, Home Depot may miss out on potential incremental impulse purchases. The other downside of the lockers is that they can’t accommodate large items which are common purchases at home improvement stores. At least it will reduce the total number of people in BOPIS lines.

We should expect to see BOPIS lockers at other home improvement stores and at retailers in other segments as consumers become more accustomed to using them.

Seth Nagle
BrainTrust

The BOPIS lockers are a nice to have but for the average Home Depot shopper will not be a significant game changer. One of the advantages of going into the Home Depot is product exploration and being able to ask questions and get recommendations from the employees.

When working on a project the last thing anyone wants to do is go inside, connect to Wi-Fi, try to remember the exact name of the item, punch in all their info AND then head to to store. Instead people just want to head to the store, grab their items and get back to work. For this reason I expect Lowe’s and other competitors to wait and see how the BOPIS lockers turn out.

The real breakthrough will happen around the in-store app driven by advanced Natural Language Processing which will direct the shopper to the aisle and bay the moment they walk inside the store.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust
BOPIS is picking up momentum however, as a process, there are fundamental challenges that retailers across all verticals, will need to overcome to make this process a bit more seamless for customers. Ideally, drawing the customer to the store for a BOPIS pickup is not only to speed up the last mile but also to help incentivize customers with impulse items, or offer an opportunity to engage with a store associate for advisory services. Again, it all depends on the type of retailers. Lockers may work well with some formats, yet in Home Depot’s scenario, while they have clearly designated an area for pickup, not all products could fit in the lockers. There is a significant upsell opportunity for the DIY segment. Perhaps companies such as Lowe’s and Home Depot should position a designated pickup station within the store, where there is a chance that consumers will engage with store associates, potentially buy complementary products or even get a bit of advice. There will be some experimentation along with trial and error with the BOPIS… Read more »
Michael La Kier
BrainTrust

BOPIS is becoming a bigger play for retailers as it provides a natural transition from in-store to online for shoppers. For the retailer it helps remove the cost of last-mile delivery and for the shopper you can typically get items faster. The strategy is more complicated with the home improvement category as some items are very bulky and some items are very small. If wide adoption happens, I’m not sure that Home Depot will have enough lockers …

Larry Negrich
BrainTrust

Finding ways to accommodate the situational shopper need is essential. These lockers must include after-hours access to accommodate late night and early visits. Also, who says lockers need to be small? Building things sometimes requires big products — think big. Walk-in lockers would be even better.

Christopher Jordan
Guest

I’m admittedly a BOPIS skeptic, though I do believe that home improvement is one segment where the concept makes sense.

That said, I suspect that for a BOPIS implementation to move the needle, it’ll need to be tailored to the unique requirements of the home improvement space. Simply having lockers that’ll only handle smaller items and claiming “expanding outside of home improvement” doesn’t do it for me.

If Home Depot genuinely wants to remove bottlenecks and create a competitive advantage, they’ll need to tune the entire workflow to their line of business. How can they implement lockers for larger items? How do they design a layout to reduce bottlenecks in getting items from the locker to a vehicle? Should there be parking specific to the lockers? Etc.

Ray Riley
BrainTrust

Home Depot is no small store, and 95 percent of my lifetime purchases at Home Depot would be able to fit in a locker and ultimately my vehicle. I personally don’t enjoy spending any more time in Home Depot than necessary, particularly living in the city. As mentioned below, if they can create a parking zone for pickups I’m completely sold.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

Now this is what I call customization. Thanks Joel for that image! Getting through a Home Depot store can be daunting and often requires several inquiries. When you know exactly what you want but just not where it is located, this makes perfect sense. It’s like having Home Depot curate your selections and place them at a convenient location just for you. For a retailer like Home Depot, I can see more and more customers using this service and loving it. It just comes across as more than BOPIS to me. And that’s my 2 cents.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

The plan has its plusses and minuses, as others have noted, but pickup is only a small part of the process. As I related in an earlier thread on HD, in my (admittedly limited) experience with BOPIS, there were 2 days to make it the first 500 miles, 2 weeks to make it the last 50 … the 2 minutes I spent in line at the end was a trivial issue.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

BOPIS … This is a great solution that is just short of delivery. It’s convenient and fast. I’m surprised this is new and that the competition (Lowe’s, Menard’s, etc.) haven’t already gone this route.

Dave Nixon
BrainTrust

This will certainly help with the experience for click and collect customers since the store’s design is not yet optimized for this model, but it will create an even bigger opportunity for the rapidly growing fraud and theft associated with the BOPIS model. People that buy with stolen credit cards or numbers and are able to pick up the products with very little engagement with the retailer. This is a growing area of concern for retailers with a click and collect model. They will need to solve this, very soon, for their locker style pick up model to be fully successful.

Min-Jee Hwang
Guest

Home Depot’s locker BOPIS strategy is going to be appealing to some customers, but not to all. The lockers are a great way for shoppers to quickly pick up small, home goods products and not have to worry about getting lost in the huge warehouse. However, Home Depot is known for having large and bulky products, the type of products that definitely won’t fit into a locker. The lockers may also decrease impulse purchases by customers who are wandering around the store looking for products. Overall, the lockers are going to be good for Home Depot. They will give the brand a competitive edge over Lowe’s, Mernard’s, and other competitors while decreasing shopper wait time and some labor costs. Manual assistance will still be needed for a majority of larger home goods items but adding BOPIS to their business model will enhance the customer experience and therefore satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Penny Lasater
Guest

As a retail solution provider for BOPIS/BORIS lockers, providing oversize compartments to accommodate a variety of merchandise is a growing request. We’ve executed outdoor systems that contain both oversize and traditional lockers to address the merchandise mix of our retail partners. With 96% of customers stating they’d use a locker again for a future BOPIS pick-up, and an NPS of 87, lockers are helping retailers improve the CX.

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Braintrust
"Knowing that my BOPIS order will be easier at Home Depot may influence my decision to shop there instead of their competitors."
"For a retailer like Home Depot, I can see more and more customers using this service and loving it. It just comes across as more than BOPIS to me."
"While the strategy makes sense for many retailers, how the final steps of delivery are implemented should be customized for each retailer."

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