J.T. Rieves, vice president of pro business, The Home Depot
J.T. Rieves, vice president of pro business, The Home Depot

The Home Depot (THD) will will expand dramatically its delivery services this spring, the company's vice president for pro services says.

J.T. Rieves also told ProSales in an interview Jan. 19 that the retailer will announce soon it's doubling to 60 days the payback terms on all its private-label credit cards. THD also plans to extend its return policy to 365 days from 90 (so long as the customer has a receipt or similar official statement) and will partner with the Fuel Rewards program.

The delivery initiative calls for The Home Depot to expand delivery services to 800 of its U.S. stores by Memorial Day and then to even more stores this coming fall. Pros in a few select cities--including Las Vegas; New Orleans; Tulsa, Okla.; and Galveston, Texas--have been test markets for the service. Elsewhere, any deliveries The Home Depot would make were limited to what could go into the bed of one of the Ford F-250 pickup trucks that the story had stationed at 500 stores nationwide. And all loading and unloading of what was on those trucks had to be performed by hand.

"We haven't made as much use of this [potential to deliver] as we could," Rieves said. "Pros have used us for fill-in, but not for the big stuff."

The expansion of delivery services comes concurrently with the installation of a delivery management system at THD stores that, among other things, will make it possible for THD to have the shipment come from the store nearest the jobsite, rather than the customer's usual THD outlet. The system also will enable THD in the future to ask customers who place orders online to choose whether they want to pick up the goods the next morning or have them delivered.

Many details about the service remain to be worked out, including how to build up the delivery fleet. In Las Vegas, THD used a third-party service, and Rieves said that he prefers to outsource the work and the trucks. Service levels also are likely to vary during the rollout; in the Las Vegas tests, for instance, THD promised only to make a jobsite delivery sometime on a specific morning or afternoon, though in exchange for an upcharge it would promise delivery within a specific two-hour window.

The delivery and credit advancements represent two ways THD is fulfilling the increased push to serve pros that it announced last August. Four percent of THD's customers account for 40% of its nearly $85 billion in annual revenue.

At the same time, THD also may end up competing more often with some of them because of its acquisition last year of Interline Brands. That's a national distributor which focuses on three segments: institutional and commercial facility owners and service contractors, multifamily apartment owners and property managers, and residential service contractors and retailers and resellers.