THE HOME DEPOT
This in-store experience design for the Home Depot Lighting Department explores the ways technology can best assist shoppers.
The Home Depot
Retail Design, Experience Design, UI Design
Enhanced Shopping Experience
Our team was tasked with improving the customer experience in The Home Depot Lighting Department. We were given three weeks to research, plan, and execute our improvements, which were then presented to the client. We identified different stages in the purchase journey of a Home Depot shopper, and developed specific ways to improve at each stage.
We began in the most logical place to begin: The Home Depot. We split up and walked around the store, talked to employees and shoppers, recorded a few videos, and took loads of pictures for future reference. We then visited competitors in the market—including Lowe's, Target, and Sears—to see and understand the differences in how the lighting section is presented and experienced in different stores.
We discovered that The Home Depot model — More Saving, More Doing — is based on four basic principles:
These principles, though useful from a pure business standpoint, can create tension in the shopping experience. The solutions explored in this case study attempt to address these points of tension.
Our research gave us useful insight into the Home Depot consumer and how and why they shop for lighting. We identified two main consumer groups and a seven-step purchase journey, from the initial thought of "I need/want a new light" all the way to completed installation.
We decided to focus our improvements specifically on the Home Nesters consumer segment. Savvy Renovators are already familiar and comfortable with the layout and purchase process at Home Depot, and have fewer problems with the current system. After analyzing our findings, we mapped out a seven-step purchase journey for the Home Nesters segment. In each step, we identified an Arena — the physical / digital / mental space the consumer is in — and a Challenge — an obstacle the consumer must overcome.
Step 1 is inspiration. This is when the consumer wants to upgrade or install new lighting, and they're looking online (Pinterest, Instagram) and in magazines to scope the latest trends and find a look they want to emulate.
The challenge in this step is picturing the light fixture you want in your space, rather than in a professional curated photograph in a magazine or app. Home Depot can address this challenge by adding a new tool to their already innovative and useful app.
AR PRODUCT VISUALIZATION
The Home Depot app has a Tools section with innovative options such as a Measuring Tape that uses your shoe size to measure large objects, and a Nut & Bolt Finder that helps you find the right size for your project. We are adding a new tool, the Lighting Tester, that lets you see how the light fixture you want will look in your own space. Below is a short video showing how the Lighting Tester works.
Step 2 is exploration. This is when the consumer begins looking at the different available light fixtures using criteria such as style, price, and difficulty of installation. They might start shopping around, visiting a variety of stores and comparing their options.
The challenge in this step is knowing that you're getting the best possible deal on the light you want. Home Depot can address this challenge by providing an easy way to browse and compare on the spot.
LIGHTING FINDER KIOSK
The Home Depot has trialed an in-store kiosk they call the "Appliance Finder" in some of their stores across the nation, assisting shoppers in their search for the right kitchen or laundry appliances. The stores with the Appliance Finder installed have seen an average uptick in appliance sales of 10-12%.
Both kitchen/laundry appliances and light fixtures are very visual elements in the home: they sit on your counter or in your laundry room or on your walls or ceilings, and are used often, if not every day. Extending the Appliance Finder functionality to the Lighting department is a logical step for Home Depot. Keeping with the same UI, we simply add in a Lighting section to help shoppers browse and compare on the spot.
Step 3 is engagement. This is when the consumer is seeing, touching, and feeling the product, reading information about it, and perhaps asking questions such as: How is it installed? What are the pros and cons? What are some good product pairings to go with my chosen light fixture?
The challenge in this step is getting the right information when you need it. In our research we discovered that consumers can sometimes be frustrated when asking employees for assistance—Home Depot is a massive store, and the employees have specialized knowledge depending on their department. If you flag down an employee who doesn't work in the Lighting Department, they likely won't be able to provide the assistance you need. Home Depot can address this challenge with a simple analog solution: employee-earned badges.
Some Home Depot stores already offer embroidered patches for employees to attach to their apron as internal incentives. We are simply taking this idea and making it into a customer-facing informational aid. Each department will have three levels of badges, from Apprentice to Journeyman to Expert.
The badges will be displayed on the employee's apron, making it obvious which department they work in and their level of expertise. New hires will start with the Apprentice badge, and they will be paired with a Journeyman who works with them and ultimately decides when they have enough knowledge and experience to level up to the next badge (and repeat the process for Journeyman → Expert).
Step 4 is discovery. This is when the consumer is in the store, they know what they want, and they're walking up and down the aisles looking for it.
The challenge in this step is actually finding the desired product. Home Depot uses a system of aisles and bays to sort and display their inventory, but these numbers can be difficult to find, understand, and even see.
Home Depot can address this challenge by adding a feature to the mobile app.
The Home Depot app already provides a 3D visualization of the user's local Home Depot floor plan, and we are adding a simple notification for the savvy consumer who's added their desired items to their digital cart. When they are close to one of the items in their cart, the app will send a notification which they can tap to see their item on the map.
Step 5 is consideration. This is when the consumer is standing in front of the product they want and wondering whether this is in fact the best deal. They know Home Depot prides itself on low prices but they may want to compare prices in competitor stores, or even how other customers rate the product.
The challenge in this step is offering enough information to the consumer. Home Depot can address this challenge by displaying competitor pricing and customer reviews directly on their price tags.
Step 6 is purchase. This is when the consumer is ready to buy their new light fixture and heads to the checkout line.
The challenge in this step is making the checkout process as easy as possible. Home Depot can address this challenge with a Virtual Checkout feature in both the mobile app and the new in-store Lighting Finder kiosks.
Step 7 is advocacy. This comes into play when the consumer has finished purchasing the product and is headed home to install their new fixture.
The challenge in this step is making it as simple as possible for the consumer to enjoy their new product, and soliciting feedback in order to improve and provide the best possible experience for future customers. Home Depot can address this challenge by adding a feature to the mobile app.
We are adding a feature to the Home Depot app that sends a notification upon completion of a purchase. Tapping the notification sends the user into the app where they can view the purchased item(s), rate their experience on a five-star scale, and check out additional resources to help with the installation, including YouTube tutorials and installation guides.
With all of our solutions in hand, it was time to test their efficacy. We posted a survey on both Reddit and Houzz (a home improvement forum), presenting the task, showing our work, and asking for feedback.
Respondents loved the AR Product Visualization, wayfinding app notifications, and Lighting Finder kiosk. Concerns were raised regarding the employee badges and compare & review stickers.
Regarding the badge system, respondents thought it might create confusion because people may not understand the different levels. Additionally, customers would likely be biased towards the Expert employees and ignore or devalue assistance from Apprentice or Journeyman employees. To address these concerns, we would install large signs by the entrance explaining the new badge system, and create a work heirarchy—for example, Apprentices may be focused on stocking shelves and inventory management, while Experts are roaming the floor and assisting customers.
Regarding the compare & review stickers, respondents anticipated difficulty in keeping up with competitor prices—for example, if Lowe's was having a 1-day sale on a certain light fixture, Home Depot may not be able to update all their stickers nationwide in a timely manner. To address these concerns, we decided to apply the stickers only to a few of the most popular and best-selling products, greatly reducing the cost and labor of updating stickers for every product in the department.
My role in this project included research, strategy, and design. I worked closely with the other XD to ideate our solutions. Specifically, I developed:
- Lighting Finder kiosk
- Wayfinding app notifications
- Post-purchase app notifications
- Employee badge system
- Caitlin Russell, Strategist
- Anna Kim, Strategist
- Katrine Limseth, Experience Designer
- Affinity Designer: Badge design
- Sketch: App notifications, kiosk UI
- Keynote: Animations
That's a wrap!