Home Depot Spiffs Up CRM And Supply Chain

Real-time data transmission and information access expected to speed distribution.



Home Depot Inc. is doing a little home-improvement project of its own this summer. It's shoring up its IT house with supply-chain and customer-relationship-management products.

The world's largest home-improvement company last week said that it has signed an enterprise license agreement to use CommerceQuest Inc.'s EnableNet Data Integrator and IBM MQ Series middleware to replace its homegrown supply-chain systems. It's also buying Avaya Inc.'s Interaction Management for multichannel CRM.

Previously, sales-transaction data flowed into a central database, while product updates and prices flowed out to the stores in batches each night. The new supply-chain system will facilitate the transmission of two-way data in real time and expand access to the information for store managers, as well as supply-chain and business partners. Employees and suppliers will know where items are and who can get them while the customer is in the store, on the phone, or at the Web site, says IT director Charlie Weston, who adds that he plans to develop "many subsets of applications."

Home Depot will use Avaya's Interaction Management multichannel CRM system to anchor a new customer-service strategy to divert customer calls from local stores to centralized regional call centers. The first center, scheduled to open in September and big enough to accommodate 1,000 agents, will handle calls for all stores in the South. Avaya software will link the call-center agents with store-based databases that include information on everything from delivery and installation schedules to tool rentals, promotional events, and details on 1 million products in 1,220 stores.

With one of the highest sales volumes in the world, Home Depot stores are visited by 30,000 customers each week; the company projects growth of 20% a year. Using IBM's DB2 and Informix database systems, Home Depot is trying to integrate standard software with homegrown applications, make its supply chain more efficient, and provide information to people using different devices, Weston says. "We're preparing ourselves for all these integration challenges."

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