Home Depot: more social media, more doing

Amanda    October 31, 2014

Organization Name: Home Depot

Industry: Home Improvement

Contact Name: Mark Holifield, Executive Vice President, Supply Chain and Product Development

Web References: Supply Chain Digest

Description of how social media is used for business performance:

Social media can be embedded to the supply chain to gather information from various parties involved whether experts or participants. With the transparency of information across all individuals, social media works to provide better understanding or justification for differences in information.

By using social media in a supply chain, “information is gathered as part of the so-called “wisdom of the crowd” (Surowiecki 2004), in a manner consistent with Hayek’s (1945) concern for information being spread rather than being concentrated.” By sharing and exchanging information in any facet of life, we’re able to grow and with growth comes improvement. Social media being integrated to supply chain management is no exception to this.

Here’s a Dilbert cartoon that Adrian Gonzalez used to demonstrate his point in a presentation at the 2011 CSCMP Annual Global Conference. He asked:

“Is Social Media in Supply Chain Management a Waste of Time?”


After a discussion with young and tenured professionals, he says the majority of them

“recognized the vast potential for social media to enhance the way people up and down the supply chain communicate and collaborate with one another; improve the way companies discover and analyze real-time information to make smarter and faster business decisions; and enable new, more efficient supply chain processes”.

He goes on to discuss the fact that business have been using social media for business to consumer (B2C) communication however going forward, there will be more business to business (B2B) communication. Software such as Moxie and Yammer in combination with public sites like Facebook and Twitter can be used to improve the way business communicate and collaboration between various groups involved in a supply chain.


An interesting approach is that of Home Depot. In 2009, they made the business decision to make a huge change and transform their supply chain culture via social media. A quote from Supply Chain Digest reads:

“We knew we were behind, and the supply chain was a competitive disadvantage for Home Depot,” Holifield told me. “We looked at how quickly we could eliminate that gap and ultimately make the supply chain a true competitive advantage for us.”

Mark Holifield is the​ Executive Vice President, Supply Chain and Product Development at Home Depot. The problem, as with most companies that sell tangible products, was that of high transportation costs, inventory costs and issues with being out of stock. They knew things had to change and​ through an optimization study they found that Home Depot’s large supply chain network needed to be revamped.


Flash forward to an update in 2014, Supply Chain Brain quotes Charles Armstrong, Vice President of Supply Chain and Product Development as saying:

“Home Depot’s supply chain initiative had resulted in significant improvements in inventory turns and distribution costs, while supporting the company’s double-digit growth”.

They’ll be continuing to work on their supply chain management by working on synchronizing their inventory information and demand planning. By leveraging social media they’ll be able to work with suppliers to get the products at the right price to their customers at the right time.

Tired of reading? Watch this video with Mark Holifield on Fulfilling Customers Needs

Sourcemap offers a great crowd source map tool that can be used to manage the supply chain of companies that may have hundreds or thousands of suppliers. It keeps companies and their suppliers connected to create better relationships and transparency. This leads to products that are tailored to your business needs whether that’s being delivered on time or being environmentally friendly. Click on the following image for a video from CBC that can help with understanding exactly what Sourcemap does:


Interested in supply chain management via social media? Give this lecture a listen:

Lessons Learned:

Supply Chain Management itself is in the process of evolving. Through it’s evolution, companies are integrating social media into their strategies and we’ve only seen the beginning with companies like Home Depot. Companies are able to realize the benefits of integrating social media into their supply chain and reap the rewards of a more transparent system that benefits them and the end user. More companies like Sourcemap will arise and guide companies in the direction of using social media to gather information and make improvements that will drive efficiencies and ultimately, profit.

Other references: Pallet Central, Supply Chain Opz, Forbes, Supply Chain Brain, Supply Chain Digest, Home Depot Corporate

Submitted by: Amanda Ganie, University of Waterloo

To contact the author of this entry please email atAmanda.ganie@gmail.com If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Programme Director, Social Media for Business Performance.