Five Questions For Simon Rodrigue, Home Depot

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Simon Rodrigue, Senior Manager, eCommerce and Interactive Marketing at Home Depot Canada, has been tasked with the role of creating a consumer-centric business that supports the retail channel in Canada. With his help, Home Depot now ranks among the top Online Canadian retailers, as the company continues to evolve its traditional media plan to include a mixed media strategy. Prior to working at Home Depot Canada, Simon was a Senior Business and Marketing Consultant with Nortel Networks Global Services.

One Degree: Tell me about the Hammer Drop concept?

The Hammer Drop concept is something we started working on a little over a year ago. We study trends and how interesting sites are evolving and how they could be incorporated into our concept of Home Improvement online. As a relatively new player in eCommerce in Canada, we felt that this could encourage consumers to try homedepot.ca for the first time.

One Degree: This is based on woot.com right? I think it’s pretty cool that an established brand like Home Depot would adopt such an innovative approach. Was this hard to sell internally?

It is absolutely based off woot.com, with a Canadian/Home Depot twist. It actually wasn’t that hard to sell internally. At Home Depot we understand the value of a strong multi-channel presence and building customer engagement through our website. Hammer Drop is just a piece to that puzzle.

One Degree: What’s the response been since you launched Hammer Drop?

The response to Hammer Drop has been great. We have been very happy with the results and since we’ve launched, many of the other etailers have followed suit in the Canada marketplace. We plan to continue to evolve this property over the holiday season and into 2007.

One Degree: Standard question for all online retailers – what’s your take on the state of e-commerce in Canada?

I personally feel that as an industry we are 2 – 3 years behind and I don’t believe that it is the consumer’s willingness that is keeping us back. In Canada, online and broadband penetration is among the highest in the world and most consumers bank online. What we lack is overall selection in the Canadian marketplace and as retailers we are to blame.

An easy exercise to understand the dilemma our consumers face is to pick a key product category and search for the number of Canadian retailers that are selling these products or services online. Typically you’ll find one or two Canadian retailers that have a serious offering (either equal or greater than the store) and a couple that have a few selected products. The majority of the products that the consumer will have access too are from US based firms and when the consumer takes shipping into consideration the purchase is not worth while.

We’re in a perfect Game Theory situation where if retailers all focused on providing more selection and a better experience, the whole market could see incredible growth. I could go on with some other potential opportunities for the Canadian marketplace, but I’ll save it for a full contribution to One Degree.

One Degree: How closely do you work with your US counterparts at homedepot.com?

We have a great relationship with homedepot.com and use it to our advantage. Although we are autonomous from a business perspective, we leverage the relationship and expertise that they have. This has allowed us to quickly enter the market with some new technologies that we would not have been able to afford if we were a Canadian only business. The other advantage is that as we are a smaller and more flexible team we often take on tests for the global organization so we can see how a new technology or ideas interacts with our brand.

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