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360Commerce Meets Two Home Depot Goals: Happier Customers And High ROI

The Challenge
Home Depot's popularity among do-it-yourselfers came with a price. Long lines. Around gift-giving holidays or at the first sign of warm weather, Home Depot customers could expect to wait in long lines at the check out. This was causing customer frustration and some customers were even leaving the store, sometimes abandoning their filled shopping cart, rather than waiting in a long line. If the long lines were caused by a temporary spurt of activity, it did not make sense to call in another cashier, open another bank and activate another register line. By the time these actions took place, the customers would already have left or the spurt would have died back down. In addition, floor associates were not properly trained to take over a register in the absence of a cashier, so pulling from the available floor staff was not an option.

In a move to better serve customers and provide a more pleasant shopping experience, Home Depot rolled out 360Commerce's Unleashed™ application, which Home Depot calls the "rapid register." The roll-out was to all of Home Depot's stores and happened over the course of only a couple of months. Having already purchased 360Commerce's register-based Point-of-Sale application, it was an easy decision to immediately deploy the wireless version, Unleashed, in all of their stores.

Using Unleashed, employees, equipped with a mobile, wireless device, can scan customer purchases while they wait in line and then suspend the transaction for retrieval and completion at the register, dramatically reducing the amount of time customers spend in line.

The 360StoreTM Unleashed application is 360Commerce's response to retailers who have expressed the need to reduce checkout lines during peak trading times, and bring POS functionality to the customer regardless of space limitations. It can be deployed on a variety of JVM-enabled wireless devices, including Telxon tablets, Symbol 1700 & 1800 series of handhelds, and wireless-enabled cash registers such as Wincor Nixdorf's Beetle/Mobile POS unit. It can be a convenient way for customers to purchase items from an outdoor merchandise area or seasonal sales display, or a tremendous asset to stores that need to stay in contact with customers throughout a multi-item, high-ticket purchase. Communicating via radio frequency, the Unleashed application can be used to scan customer purchases, accept credit cards, capture signatures and print receipts.

Unleashed was rolled out to 1,332 Home Depot stores with approximately 4 clients per store. Working closely with Home Depot's team, 360Commerce's professional services group was able to rapidly integrate the new architecture of the Unleashed application with Home Depot's current architecture for a quick time-to-market. Both teams came up with a joint plan for the integration and customization, considering multiple factors such as which mobile device would work best in Home Depot's environment, utilizing existing technology, acceptable performance goals and overall corporate business drivers. Once the best solution was mapped out, the 360Commerce development team was able to easily customize the application to fit the chosen form factor and quickly integrate the application for rapid deployment. Now that the roll-out is complete, the 360Commerce team is continuing development efforts to migrate the application to the new architecture being deployed chain-wide. In addition to acting as part of a customer's team, as was the case with the Home Depot project, 360Commerce's professional services group can also provide an entire turn-key solution, if needed, or can completely transfer knowledge to a customer's internal team for project completion. The level of involvement is entirely up to the customer.

Home Depot's goal was to provide an even higher level of customer service. Initial customer feedback has been very positive. "Our customers are experiencing shorter wait times at the check out," said Deana Heyn, Home Depot project manager. "When we started using this line-buster application to get our customers home faster we started seeing more smiling faces in line." According to Home Depot, an added bonus was being able to provide this service without replacing existing technology.

Home Depot also saw an increase in efficiency due to the dual nature of the wireless system. Not only were they able to utilize technology already in place, but were also able to utilize associates for multiple purposes, as needed. This was especially important as the return-on-investment (ROI) for Home Depots' implementation of wireless devices in their stores was heavily weighted around the productivity of the company's associates, according to Home Depot's VP of Information Systems, Danny Branch.

Adding to the positive ROI, is the company's ability to add additional applications to the mobile units as needed. In addition to 360Commerce's Unleashed mobile POS application, Home Depot also utilizes their mobile cart units for a mobile signage application for printing shelf labels, inventory management functions, and to keep store associates on the store floor where they can assist customers and answer questions instead of in the storeroom or back office. The system paid for itself within the first year, said Branch.

Remarking on the choice to go with 360Commerce as their vendor of choice for this project as well as the register-based Point-of-Sale for all of their stores, Home Depot said they went with 360Commerce because of their use of Java TM and the standards-based architecture of their applications. They stated that 360Commerce's flexible solutions are easily customized to fit their technology infrastructure and future plans for growth.