“The consumer is changing,” said Tomé, the company’s chief financial officer and vice president of corporate services. “We have to change the way we go to market.”
Shoppers are increasingly using technology when it comes to purchasing goods, she said. Tomé said the company, which is headquartered in Atlanta near Vinings, will invest $12 million this year to revamp its mobile app. Tomé said the business is also concentrating on interconnective retail — merging technology with the traditional shopping experience.
“Thirty percent of all our online sales are picked up at a store, and 25 percent of the time when that customer comes in the store, they buy something else,” she said.
The company is also making sure to cater to home improvement professionals with special services like dedicated checkout lanes and parking. Though that category of shoppers makes up about 4 percent of the customer base, purchases of home improvement professionals make up about 35 percent of sales, Tomé said.
She said though business took a hit during the housing market crash, the company continued to support its employees with merit increases, bonuses and contributions to 401k plans.
“We invested into the downturn because we believed that when the economy turned around, … that we would be stronger than ever before,” Tomé said.
Taking care of employees is one of The Home Depot’s core values, she said. With the housing market now on the upturn, Tomé said the company’s profits are improving.
“In 2013 we had our best financial year since 1999,” she said.
As home values rise, Tomé said consumers start to see their homes as investments again and are more likely to do home improvement projects.
“We have seen double-digit [sales] growth in premium-price products in our stores for almost two years, because people are starting to think of their homes as an investment and it changes the way they’re spending in our stores,” she said.
Business growth is not just booming for The Home Depot but also all around Buckhead, association President Brian McGuire told the crowd.
“We’ve added over 50 new businesses to the membership this year already,” he said. “I can’t imagine what the rest of the year is going to bring.”
Among the growth in Buckhead, McGuire said there are 8,000 apartment units under construction and the first phase of the Buckhead Atlanta mixed-use development is scheduled to open in September.