Craig Menear, president and CEO of Home Depot, attended a question-and-answer session presented at the Goldman Sachs 25th Annual Global Retailing Conference, where he talked about the retailer’s plan to invest $11 billion in both its brick-and-mortar and digital experience, as well as streamlining its B2B and professional distribution services.

“The way the customers are engaging with the Home Depot is changing at a rapid pace,” Menear said. “They are blending the physical and digital worlds together. And so, it becomes imperative that the Home Depot trades creates truly a one Home Depot experience where the customer can blend those two channels together and engage with us.”

Investment plans include a full B2B website experience (scheduled to debut in the next fiscal year) to allow customization to professional’s business and needs, technology to monitor shipments from suppliers, and improvements to downstream distribution networks to free up valuable real estate in brick-and-mortar stores.

“The shopping experience for most categories today starts in the digital world,” Menear added. “So, the job of the merchant is to optimize that space against the largest customer base…in the digital world, we have the ability to expand that offering and allow us to be able to service a wider customer base within a product category.”

Flooring retail as we’ve known it continues to be in a state of evolution. Consumers continue to shop for flooring via social media (see Irene William’s Message to Market column in this month’s issue where she talks about Pinterest) and commercial specifiers are exploring options for both materials and installers online (see Contractor’s Corner in which Fuse members talk about how they are using social media for marketing to connect with the architecture and design community). And then there is the ruling by the Supreme Court that compels retailers to collect sales-tax revenue from consumers, in an effort to level the playing field between online and brick-and-mortar retailers (see Talk Floor this month for an in-depth look at the issues surrounding this topic). 

While nothing beats the sensory experience of shopping for flooring in a brick-and-mortar showroom, we are excited at how digital marketing is opening up the category to a world of new consumers. We will keep a close eye on how the Home Depot and flooring retailers are able to merge those 2D and 3D experiences.