Social Media offers opportunities for Supply Chain Management

jmann89    July 2, 2014

Organization Name: Home Depot

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

Industry: Home improvement and construction products and services.

Home Depot History

Home Depot is an American-based, International global leader in the fairly crowded retail home improvement and construction sector. With locations in 50 States, 10 Canadian Provinces and Mexico, Home Depot employs more than 350,000 people and based on reported income, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ranks the company as the largest home improvement retailer in the United States.

Taking baby steps towards Social Media

Digital and social media offer as yet, untapped potential for Supply Chain management. While the majority of companies are still trying to determine how and when to take advantage, Home Depot as an early adapter has already begun to reap the benefits afforded to the pioneers. Supply chain management is about relationships, trust and reliability. You can’t sell from an empty shelf, you can’t fill an order without accurate quantities and you can’t optimize the benefits of just in time inventory strategies without reliable, timely and ongoing communications. Every link in the chain must be in the loop and interconnected. Social media facilitates communication and collaboration between professionals by providing speed, brevity, tracking and measurement.


“We know social media will transform supply chain processes, but we just don’t know how exactly and where to start and why.” Adrian Gonzalez, President of Adelante SCM

Social Media and The Warehouse

Home Depot realizes the power of communication on every level; with their vendors; associates; support staff and most important their customers. In 2008, Home Depot made a huge investment with Facebook and Twitter. Customers are using both mediums to compliment stores, associates and discuss products and projects. Time is money and being able to determine from the job site whether the product is in stock or to be able to confer with an in store associate are rapidly becoming ‘must have’ capabilities in this sector. Using YouTube videos to provide either in store or at home education for the DIY (Do it Yourself) or DIFM (Do it for Me) customers has become invaluable to drive loyalty and sales. Home Depot has also developed a proprietary social media site called The Warehouse. The goal is to provide every link in the chain the ability to communicate on all critical components of their individual and collective responsibility to the customer and each other: to be in store, in stock. With direct communication from the floor to the warehouse to the suppliers to transportation, inventory replenishment is timely and cost efficient. Home Depot embraces change and recognizes their customer service commitment both internal and external is driven not only by what is in the store but also by how people can visit the store virtually.


In 2014, Home Depot will invest in excess of $1.5 billion for supply chain and technology improvements to link its physical and virtual stores. Changes will include the ability to assist customers in the pickup or delivery of heavy bulk items such as appliances and building supplies; revamping store space to accommodate staging for on-line pick-up and returns and much, much more.

The Home Depot story is yet another reminder of how successful companies must adapt and evolve to stay current with the ever changing needs of an information empowered consumer and support network. The customer of today is very comfortable with online fulfillment and expects the supply chain to provide an individual delivery experience.

The only constant is change!

Lessons Learn:

Social media is not yet a huge factor in Supply Chain Management but it is constantly growing and becoming more effective.

Embrace unfamiliar initiatives in business, you have to learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

In order to survive as a business, change and reinventing yourself and your business is the only way to stay on top.

Submitted By: Jordan Mann, University of Waterloo

Author Contact:

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Web References:

Home Depot

Mark Holifield

Supply Chain Article

Home Depot and customer fulfillment

YouTube Video

Supply Chain Management