Home Depot is getting pretty.
Just months after buying high-end linen e-tailer The Company Store, Home Depot is making its big push into the home decor category.
In an email sent out to customers on Monday and reinforced on its website, Home Depot is making it perfectly clear that it intends to be a big player in the decorative home furnishings business: “Your favorite home improvement retailer is about to become your new favorite décor destination.”
Subtle, it’s not. Downright terrifying to the retailers currently in this space – Wayfair, J.C. Penney, Bed Bath & Beyond and just about every department in the country – it should be.
While The Company Store is featured prominently on the promotional mailer, it is only one of several home furnishings touch points for the big do-it-yourselfer. Individual callouts bring attention to all the key classifications of the home decor business: furniture, bedding and bath, wall decor, tabletop and home accents. Even small appliances like toasters and blenders are offered online.
None of these categories have been truly represented at Home Depot previously, and this effort marks a major initiative to take business away from existing retailers in the space, as well as further cement the store’s positioning as a one-stop resource for all things home. If you’re coming in to get a new toilet, replace your windows or redo the kitchen cabinets, why not get some bath towels, new furniture and curtains to finish the room and some dishes and glassware to go along with the new kitchen?
As big a deal as this is for Home Depot, it’s not the first time it has tried this strategy. Back in the 1990s, the retailer tested a spin-off store called Expo that featured not only more upscale home improvement products but also the decorating accompaniments, including textiles, tableware and some furniture.
The stores took a much more stylish merchandising route than the typical rack-’em-and-stack-’em Home Depot warehouse and truly represented a new approach to the entire home remodeling and redecorating process.
But they didn’t work — or at least not well enough for what was then still a rapidly expanding retail operation that may have seen its priorities lie elsewhere.
Home Depot closed all the Expo stores around the turn of the century, and while the typical Home Depot store still carries a fair assortment of rugs and a couple of running feet of curtains and draperies, it has never truly revisited this territory — until now.
This still seems to be pretty much an online deal, and Home Depot has not said anything publicly about its plans for in-store merchandising of home decor categories. The same goes for physical store plans for The Company Store, although with all the home categories, in-store merchandise pickups are available, as are return-to-store options.
Locked in a head-to-head battle with archrival Lowe’s in a mature home improvement business, Home Depot has to look at home decor as a natural product extension, one it can exploit through its existing in-store and online base rather than going into a parallel retail operation. The current struggles of Bed Bath & Beyond, J.C. Penney and the nearly comatose Sears have to have made the initiative that much more promising.
Home Depot is the second-largest retailer in America, second to Walmart, and with 2,200 stores worldwide — including just under 2,000 in the U.S. — the retailer can throw around its considerable merchandising weight nearly any way it chooses.
Its designs on home decor have to be viewed as a very attractive idea, indeed.
More Info: www.forbes.com