Top 100 Retailers Power Players: Hardware/Home Improvement

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Three home improvement chains and a co-operative of hardware stores constitute this Power Player grouping. The outlier is Ace Hardware, which bills itself as the “largest retailer-owned hardware co-operative in the world.” Based in Oak Brook, Ill., and founded in 1924, Ace has enjoyed annual same-store sales gains for seven straight years, including last year’s 2.5 percent increase. Ace added a net of 52 stores last year.

The Home Depot is still the Big Kahuna in this category, as it steamrolls most of the competition from coast to coast — and online as well. Online sales for Home Depot have tripled over the past five years and have vaulted the company into the top 10 e-commerce retailers, a list headed by Amazon.com, according to Internet Retailer.

The Home Depot offers online shoppers a number of options, including buy online, pickup in store and buy online, deliver from store. The company says approximately 45 percent of web orders are picked up at the store, which it feels leads to additional in-store purchases.

Buy online, deliver from store “was built on a foundation of our new customer order management system, which was fully deployed in all U.S. stores during the second quarter of 2016,” says Craig Menear, Home Depot’s chief executive.

“We are pleased with a positive customer response to this enhanced delivery option, which streamlines the delivery experience for both our customers and our store associates.”

The Home Depot refers to its omnichannel efforts as “interconnected retail.” Associates are using handheld devices to help customers complete online sales in the aisle, expedite the checkout process for customers during peak traffic periods, locate products in the aisles and online and check inventory on hand.

This addresses what Home Depot told its shareholders earlier this year: “Becoming a best-in-class interconnected retailer is growing in importance as the line between online and in-store shopping continues to blur and customers demand increased convenience and value.”

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