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Dive Brief:

  • To further strengthen its position among professional customers, The Home Depot on Tuesday introduced a virtual workshop series to offer business advice to professional contractors.
  • The virtual workshops will cover a wide range of topics: using social media best practices for businesses, managing business expenses and identifying trends within the sector, according to a company announcement. Home Depot kicked off the series with a workshop taught by an associate professor of finance at Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business.
  • The workshops will run every other month, according to a company press release.

Dive Insight:

Home Depot has long been the preferred home improvement destination among professionals and the retailer’s latest initiative appears to be an effort to solidify that position.

In its most recent quarter, CEO Ted Decker said sales from its pro segment continued to outpace DIY during the period. The retailer reported fourth quarter net sales increased 10.7% year over year to $35.7 billion, while comp sales grew 8.1% overall and 7.6% in the U.S.

Decker added that pros have historically gone to Home Depot because of the convenience it offers for last-minute, unplanned purchases, but the retailer now is working to get those customers into Home Depot’s ecosystem sooner.

“We’re building capabilities with our Pro ecosystem to accelerate Pro share growth particularly in planned purchases,” Decker said on a call with analysts last month. “We’ve always talked about [how] every Pro is in our building. We’re sort of the 7-Eleven for Pros — convenience, value, tremendous product and brands — but what we’re building now is something completely different and revolutionary to get the Pro planned purchase.”

To help with that, the retailer has introduced a number efforts geared toward the pro customer, including offering a new Pro Xtra credit card and adding new features to its Commercial Account card. While the Pro Xtra card offers volume pricing, paint rewards and exclusive product offers, the Commercial Account card gives cardholders a 2% early paid discount for balances paid within 20 days or a 60-day payment term, the company said in a January press release.

Winning over professionals will also help Home Depot in the long run as general demand in the home improvement category begins to wane. At the height of the pandemic, the category saw a spike in demand as more consumers undertook home-related projects to make their new realities, like working and schooling from home, more comfortable. In the early days of the pandemic, many consumers took on these projects themselves to avoid having contractors come into their homes. As consumers became more comfortable hiring contractors again, demand for professionals ticked up. So while sales growth from DIY customers is slowing for Home Depot, sales from its pro customers remain strong.

Home Depot’s experimentation with livestream programming — which also includes its Homeowner 101 series, Homeowner 101, DIY Workshops and Seasonal Workshops — follows other retailers, such as Petco and Anne Klein. These retailers have done the same in recent years via Facebook and other social platforms. Earlier this month, Walmart expanded its collaboration with social shopping platform Talkshoplive to host multiple new livestreaming experiences featuring celebrities such as Rachael Ray and Drew Barrymore.

https://www.retaildive.com/news/to-solidify-position-among-pros-home-depot-launches-virtual-business-works/620090/