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Home Depot wins with IT.

Globe and Mail Update

Other retailers? Well, not so much ...Read the full article

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  1. Gordon Murray from Canada writes: The online catalogues are good introductions to those interested in learning about the names of the tools and other goods and services.
    Maybe a picture download and labelling will be some day available from hardware stores to keep me from fumbling with names of what I want.
  2. Bill D from Canada writes: Home Depot may think they are improving on their customer service but they like all Big Box stores are being run by kids from college and universities who know very little about the products they are selling.
  3. Vancouver Canadian from Vancouver, Canada writes: I'm in the store and need help so I'm supposed to go home and check the internet then come back to the store? Thats customer service?

    I refuse to shop at home depot cause most of the staff dont know what the things are for... if you can find anyone!
  4. M L from Toronto, Canada writes: Folks, stop dreaming. Retail has nothing to do with customer service. The reason the big box stores keep their prices low is because they do hire students at lower hourly rate. You cannot match the US pricing, have everyday low price AND offer excellent service. Besides, who would want to work retail nowadays with the low pay and continous grief from customers. Be thankful they have the item on the shelf when you show up. By the way, if you are not pleased with the service or think you know better, shop elsewhere!
  5. ken g from Canadian in Mexico City, Canada writes: You think that they are not knowledgeable in Canada. Try the Home Depots down here! Prices are the same as in Canada, costs are lower (way cheaper staff) and profits are higher.
  6. Grant S from Burlington, Canada writes: Is this an add for Home Depot or a newspaper article?
  7. Dan Carroll from Kanata, Canada writes: Ironic that this article should be published the day after a visit to Home Depot, where I spoke with three different employees about my frustration they they don't stock a bolt for a lawnmower I bought 19 months ago. Two of the three told me to go to their website, not to find the bolt (for that, I should go to the website of the manufacturer), but to complain about the paucity of spare parts. I finally solved my problem not with a member of the outdoor products department, but with a rep from the nuts & bolts department, who disassembled a mower on the floor to match, as closely as possible, to a standard bolt that I paid $0.75 for. I mentioned to him that for the exact bolt I would have been willing to pay up to $15.00! He told me that in his opinion HD has a long way to go in IT...that they should be able to identify needs like mine, since this particular part is used on most mowers they sell, and because it falls out frequently (I am apparently not the first customer he's helped with this need). In passing, he mentioned his frustration that shelf stockouts are difficult to replenish, even if the computers say there is stock in the store, because the computer does not say where in the store the stock is sitting. Yikes, that's pretty basic ERP. The bottom line? My most recent mower, a lawn tractor, was purchased not at Home Depot, but directly from its least now, I know where to call for parts. As I told these three HD employees...HD "stole" this customer from Sears because of outstanding selection and good prices, 15 years ago. The prices are no longer that good, and I'm waiting for a competitor to solve the parts inventory problem...and then I'm gone.
  8. Typical Country Weather from Mono, Canada writes: HD is delusional if they think that self checkout is the Big answer. I have attempted to use these damned machines several times at HD - but no more. Not once have they been able to complete my sale without waiting for an HD employee to come and press some keys to unlock the machine when it keeps demanding that I put the item in the bag! I put it in the bag!

    These self checkouts are a complete and total bust. I will not use them again.
  9. Edward Jones from Toronto, Canada writes: I hope the Globe got paid well for running an advertisement as an article.
  10. Frank Castor from Babylon, Canada writes: Great article, the only problem is that Future Shop is not a good store at all. They are always ripping customers off with their over priced out of date stock. The company is no longer Canadian as this article suggests.
  11. We Are Not Amused from Carleton Place, Canada writes: The auto-checkouts are poor at best. I'll stick to Rona thank you very much. Their staff at least have a clue and if they don't, they ask..
  12. M. Walraven from Toronto, Canada writes: I also share in the irony that this article should be published the day after a visit to Home Depot. My husband and I are renovating our basement and we went with much trepidation, fully expecting to be ignored and help ourselves. But we were blown away when we left the store 3.5 hours later. In that time we were helped by 4 different customer service reps in 3 areas and we couldn't have asked for a better experience. Not sure if the Milton, ON store is an exception to the rule, but the employees we encountered were all approachable, knowledgeable, and more than willing to answer all of our most basic questions. It was clear that their job was to approach any customer who came into their area and spend time with them. I'm still in shock.
  13. PANIC! At The Ice Floe from Ottawa, Canada writes: I rarely go to a self checkout. I prefer to think that my going to an actual person is keeping them employed.

    I was in a Wal-Mart in the States last year and was told they are getting rid of theirs...Too much fraud and too many complaints to justify them.
  14. Cycling Commuter from Canada writes: I always use self-checkout at Home Depot. It saves time and it frees-up sales staff to help customers find what they're looking for.

    Cashiering is not a healthy job because it involves a lot of standing in one place. Walking around the store helping customers find things is a much healthier job.

    The self-checkout barcode scanner usually works, but the odd time when it doesn't, it's a simple matter to punch in the product number. Even experienced cashiers need to do that occasionally. When I had trouble scanning the barcode on a small plastic bag with a plumbing fitting in it, a staff member explained that pushing the plumbing fitting to the end of the bag away from the barcode and flattening out the barcode end of the bag will make the scan work. Since then, I've had no problems.
  15. Cycling Commuter from Canada writes: Sales associates in the suburbs are usually polite and helpful. They are more often rude and unhelpful downtown. It seems to be some sort of language barrier thing. They're fairly polite to people who speak their own language.

    Governments should offer substantial tax breaks to employers who offer ongoing, high-quality English/French as a second language courses and other skills advancement opportunities to their employees for half an hour or so per day during the slowest times.
  16. J Albert from Toronto, Canada writes: I use the self-checkout if I have simple things to scan - not with plants and larger items.

    The staff at Curity are pretty good - excellent in the appliance and tools sections. A number of staff I've talked to have trade experience.

    Future Shop used to be a disaster - messy and understocked to the point one could almost imagine that a hurricane had hit. It has improved markedly since being purchased by Best Buy.
  17. diane marie from calgary, Canada writes: Home Depot and similar stores need to try to recruit seniors who actually know something thanks to life experience. My corner postal outlet (in a greeting card store) is staffed by an 80-year-old who'd put most workers to shame (smart cookie!). Hire the teens to stock shelves. I've had no trouble with self-checkout but found the hectoring voice annoying. Newer "models" seem better.
  18. Dick Garneau from Canada writes: In Calgary we have a massive shortage of staff to serve you. Yes they don't have all the answers but they try hard. You learn to have patience. Some times you have to search the store for someone to help you, even going to customer service to page help.

    I don't like the self check outs but I am learning.

  19. Tracy Bracy from Toronto, Canada writes: Browse dont buy... overpriced. People are really overestimating the number of internet users in this country. Still very few people depend on the internet. Most lose their interest very quickly because it is a dump for information, services and goods. No one trusts their personal information on the internet.
  20. JM Work from Canada writes: HD's self checkout is great. Out of all the stores Ive tried these at, HD's has given me no problems. Ive always been able to complete my transaction without having to be assisted.
  21. Mark Kalyta from Canada writes: Training staff to better manage their labour costs has little to do with IT and only looking at Point-of-Sale data to see how stores are performing is a minute aspect of the entire supply chain. Home Depot still suffers greatly in not knowing what is on their trucks (domestic and international),when it is going to be delivered and where the heck they are going to put it when it (surprise!) shows up at the door. Tacking a bar code on it then, so you can find it later, is a less than visionary view of using IT to manage your supply chain. And their UPC data is likely 20%-35% wrong (standard norm) which directly translates in... customers facing the same, better trained staff, that still don't have a clue. But hey, the article does make for a good advertisement for HD.
  22. Jacques Shellac from Montreal, QC, Canada writes: I'm afraid you misspelled Despot in the headline. HTH.
  23. aniphylactic shock troops from Victoria, Canada writes: This is advertorial. An advert dressed up as news copy. It's a 1,000-word shill by Home Desperate, with a flimsy personal anecdote tacked on as the lede.

    As usual with newspapers, the "news" is contained in the reader comments.

    Re M L from Toronto's comment that "retail has nothing to do with customer service." Doesn't have to be that way. The big new Rona in Langford is loaded with old tradesman who are knowledgeable about their products, not like HD and its cabal of pimply-faced idjits and self-loathing checkout machines.

    And if you want an EXTRAORDINARY hardware store, go to the Do-It Centre on Cook. Mostly <40ish staff, but they were knowledgeable, helpful, articulate and polite. I worked on a huge reno last summer; probably was in that store every day for 3-4 months. Never once, not once, did I come out of there less than 100% impressed. Hands down the best DIY store in Victoria. By a mile.
  24. aniphylactic shock troops from Victoria, Canada writes: Another thing: HD and Rona aren't really DIY stores anymore. Or at least it's not their focus. Notice how they've pushed appliances, kitchen, carpets and blinds - all the crap you either buy and have delivered or have someone else install - to the front. Meanwhile, electrical and plumbing bits and bobs are shoved to the back.

    HD's lumber selection is a sick joke. If you need 4 sticks of 2x4 to finish a project, sure you can whip over there if it's close. But no self-respecting tradesman or even self-respecting home handyman would count on HD for lumber.
  25. Some Guy from Ottawa, Canada writes: Having nifty neat-o Information Technology infrastructure does little to help me find a great selection of landscaping foliage. I phoo - phooed Home Depot when planning my landscaping project on account of poor direction and lack of material in store. I chose instead to visit a local private greenhouse where the staff were knowledgeable and had a vested interest in the success of their business - unlike the college kids running home depot.

    Not every business can succeed on a warehouse model.
  26. ed ncda from Calgary, Canada writes: This article seemed vaguely familiar but as it's dated today, June 28,2008 I continued to the end.
    However when I read the comments, I realized my memory is not failing me. The first comment is dated July 9, 2007!!! Other comment are dated Aug. 2, 2007, March 22, 2008, April 30, 2008, May 7,2008, June 1, 2008, June 28, 2008
    Judging by the comment dates the article must have been "published" at least half a dozen times.
    I'm not sure what this says about Home Depot, the media, computer software or GM readers. Perhaps the GM staff is having a little contest to see how often they can stick this on the website and not have anyone notice that they're reading it for the umpteenth time? If this is the case, where do I pick up my prize?
  27. Sami Lama from Toronto, Canada writes: I find it amusing that this article praises their IT-saviness and embracing the Internet but yet the Home Depot Canadian web site is hopeless for finding their products and getting useful info on pricing and reviews. You can only really find big ticket items easily (BBQs, fans, appliances, etc.) but for smaller items forget it.

    For the most part, staff have been informative but it often depends on the store. Gerrard Square location - not so knowledgeable staff. Laird - very helpful and good tips.
  28. John McCain from Canada writes: Rona has more knowledgeable staff and the stores are kept tidier. I gave up on HD years ago.
  29. Ed Anger from Canada writes: Hey Home Depot may not be perfect its a lot better than the stock (more succintly lack of stock) found at Rona. I say thums up for HD.
  30. Angry West Coast Canuck from Canada writes: If the self-serve checkouts are considered "good" IT then I think the people who make such evaluations should be taken out back and put out of our misery. I've never seen such a poorly designed, poorly executed piece of crap in my entire design career. From the weigh scale that doesn't correctly register the weight of items, to the lack of racking to hold longer (as in, anything longer than 1 metre) items, to the asinine decision to have different payment functions spread out all over the machine - even behind where you stack the good. It's a freaking disaster of design, and the people who put that into production should be ashamed.

    As for "choice", trying shopping somewhere you actually have choice. Home Depot, Rona, all those are just about selling a small number of products each repackaged in a dozen different ways - but it's still just the same basic product. There IS no real choice there, so let's stop pretending. With our small, spread out population I don't think we'll ever get choice with current business models, but we should realize that we're being taken to the cleaners rather than pretending that we have any real choice in the products we buy.
  31. Random X from Canada writes: It might help Mr Taylor to actually step into one of his stores, rather than just parroting what his direct reports are telling him. You don't need a lot of technology or even a tape measure, to assess the success of self-serve checkouts. Self-serve checkouts do not take less space: they take at least 50% more space. His customers avoid the self-serve checkouts like the plague. On any day, there will be lineups for manned checkouts while the self-serve line has a couple of customers fumbling with the scanners. They take at least twice as long to check out, and invariably, need the assistance of the HD employee whose job it is to watch customers struggle with the scanners (and make sure no one is stealing, of course.) Therefore, two self-serve checkouts take the floor space of 3 regular checkouts, and take one employee out of action of actually serving customers. Most customers hate self-serve. All that Mr Taylor can see is saving a bit of money by putting a couple of minimum-wage employees out of work. In principle, I don't like self-serve checkouts. It makes me feel like the store is making me do their work. Next, will they be asking customers to restock empty shelves, or drive to another store to pick up an item when they run out? Wait, never mind that last one: they already do that. Maybe what Mr Taylor should work on is the service that Home Depot is proud to advertise but fails to deliver. These ads quickly disappear from a customer's mind when he steps out of his car in the parking lot and hears the frantic P.A. announcement from a cashier, saying "Will someone from Flooring please call! The customer has been waiting twenty minutes!" Of course, self-serve checkouts can't make frantic appeals to employees for service, so Mr Taylor can proudly proclaim that self-serve checkouts reduce customer complaints.
  32. R C from Wloo, Canada writes: My experience with Home Depot is that their s/w sucks, which frustrates their employees and customers.

    1) Took an employee 45 minutes to enter my order for a garage door & installation; s/w wasn't user friendly and he couldn't get support desk.
    2) Returned extra insulation, and no one could ring up a cash refund. So I suggested a gift card and that worked.

    And I have other stories...
  33. Matthew Taylor from Belleville, Canada writes: Well the article may lean more towards a praise or HD and be seen as less of a news article the basis for the article is very much true. Now for those of you who have it in your head that Rona or Lowes or one of these other hardware stores do not hire students or that they only hire trained tradesmen you should really go to these stores before you say such things. All stores hire students. And yes HD does hire knowledgeable tradesmen. Now for the IT part. I have found for the majority of my purchases at HD that the self-checkout is more then suitable for my needs. This allows one less cashier and gives one more Lot associate or one more person on the sales floor. HD is currently working on a new computer system that will allow for better stocking and easier locating of stock in store, meaning less time searching for stock. And last the web-based training is very educational and effective allowing for easy training at most computers, so if an associate have no customers in there department you will many times find them on the computer working on learning to serve you better.
    As a final note, as someone who works for HD I find it funny when it is said that HD is no longer a do it yourself store. I have many customers who come in and are so horrified when we do not offer install on something or when I can not off the top of my head suggest a contractor and tradesperson. If you are coming and buying lumber for a deck or you are buying a new sink/tub/shower, we sell it to you and are willing to teach you how to do it just do not ask me where you can find someone to do it for you.
  34. Stephano Daliwal from Canada writes: Yeah..HD is a lil bit problematic sometimes. It has less knowledgeable staff b/c the pay is really low and the turnover rate is usually high.

    In most cases, if a worker is not related to someone in management or has a friend among the managerial rank, the chances of being promoted is zero.

    They are family run stores..
  35. Peter The Not Quite Great from Canada writes: I've used the self-checkout at Home Depot for smaller items and it works very well.

    As for helping customers find what they want, clearer signs on the aisles would go a long way.

    A radio call button is nothing new. Canadian Tire has had it for years but it's no help when staffing is short and no one can come. A better system would be a computer where the catalogue not only shows the item you need but also where in the store you can find it.

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