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Home Depot Adds Self-Checkout To IT Initiatives

Home-improvement retailer says timing is right for more IT investment.
Home Depot Inc. is introducing customer self-checkout in its stores following a major investment in technologies from NCR Corp. and Microsoft. It's the third big IT initiative this quarter for the retailer, which also is overhauling its decision-support systems and purchasing 40,000 desktop PCs.

Home Depot CIO Bob DeRodes, who left the same job at Delta Airlines Inc. for the job in February, says the timing is right for IT investments. "We have an incredible need to improve the tools we have, and find the IT dollar goes a lot further in this environment," he says. "We're getting some of the best value I've seen in all my years in this industry for the IT dollar."

Self-checkout will give the $54 billion retailer a competitive advantage through improved customer service, DeRodes says. Self check-out lanes are slimmer than regular lanes, so stores can add more lanes and speed the check-out process. Stores also can re-deploy cashiers to the retail floor to assist do-it-yourselfers with selecting home-improvement products, DeRodes says. Wal-Mart, Kmart, and some grocery chains are testing or installing self check-out lanes, but Home Depot is first among home-improvement retailers to do so.

The project is part of a broader IT initiative, to cost tens of millions of dollars, for improving service and accuracy during customer check-out, DeRodes says. Home Depot is purchasing NCR systems for both self check-out and traditional cashier lanes, and has developed its own software, including streaming media and graphics, to support new processes and improve cashier training. The systems will run on Microsoft Windows.

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