Historically, Home Depot has trailed behind the curve in regards to incorporating information technology in the workplace. The only exception was the incorporation of self-check outs into their Point of Sales system. Initially the self-check out systems were a success, but with continuous use the systems proved to lack the durability necessary to withstand the rigorous use brought upon by large bulky items. The incidents range from broken screens, to systems damaged by chemicals, to handheld scanners being dropped and becoming inoperable, rendering the system more burdensome than helpful. Home depot just incorporated Fujitsu software into their check out systems but further measures must be taken to improve on the durability of the system. Recommendations for evaluating and testing newer “hardy” systems will avoid delays in a self-checkout that was introduce with the saving of customers time in mind.
The “First Phone” has been a being a great addition to Home Depots information systems. It has the ability to perform price look-ups, check inventory and during heavy customer traffic, scan items from customers waiting on line to speed the check-out process. The customer receives a receipt with a barcode which then it’s taken to the cashier who in turn scans the barcode on the receipt and processes the payment. This system, although ideal, lacks the ability to process the customer from beginning to end. The ideal progression for this system would be to one, accept credit cards on the spot. One recommendation for these systems is to provide clients to pick up a scanner and allow customers to scan their own items as they shop along. Once done the client will take the scanner to cashier for payment. This will avoid an unnecessary step in the payment process and would save on employee labor hours which would aloud the employee to do more specialized customer service.
Home Depot’s slow approach to incorporating integrated information system actually benefited the company because it afforded technology time to mature into the customized platform it now provides. Going forward one recommendation would be to switch from the Motorola phones to Apple iPhones which have not only proven to be effective in business but provide varied business applications useful for retail environments. Home Depot would greatly benefit from specialty software from Apple. For one the iPhone is not only a user friendly device, but its popularity will provide ease of employee training while providing a vast amount of possibilities. In addition, the Apple iPhone capability of processing payments anywhere and on the go, will provide an added value to customer service.
Although it originally lagged behind most retailers in technology, Home Depot has gone through great length to developed a more functional integrated information system. The speed at which they have integrated information systems has created a need for a localized training system. No longer are videos the most effective way to train employees. Home Depot should incorporate, as part of their in-house staff, an Information System Specialist. This will facilitate each store with on-going systems training and provide employees necessary training on how to properly use all available systems and the way they inter-relate to one another to ensure better flow of information.. A video cannot troubleshoot when things occur or provide answers to question that an Information System Specialist can provide. Having an in-house Information Systems Specialist will reflect positively in the productivity of the employees and in their familiarity with the various information technologies that Home Depot uses on a daily basis.
Going forward Home Depot needs to continue to improve on their services by providing the best customer experience. To accomplish this Home Depot should continue to integrate their information systems but must keep in mind that a system is only as useful as the person accessing it. An employee information training program should be implemented that will address all systems changes immediately. This will ensure the continue prosperity of Home Depot and help them maintain their dominance as the leading home improvement retailer.