With $157 billion in annual sales last year, Home Depot is the leading home improvement retailer in the United States. Stores average over 104,000 square feet of interior retail space and an additional 24,000 square feet of outdoor retail space, giving manufacturers like you plenty of shelf space to display your products — but how do you make the cut?
Getting your products into Home Depot can build instant credibility for your brand and expose you to countless customers across the consumer, home repair and local construction markets. Needless to say, it can be a highly strategic move, so here’s what you need to know about the requirements and process.
Understanding Home Depot's Vendor Requirements
Home Depot became one of the first stores of its kind to offer online shopping, going online in August 2000 in Las Vegas before rolling the initiative out nationally in 2001. In recent years, Home Depot opened up its online space to more retailers, offering certain online-only products, especially in the home decor category.
Regardless, as a building materials manufacturer, you’d primarily be leveraging Home Depot as a traditional wholesaler rather than as an online marketplace, and this can give your brand distinct advantages. Having physical products in-store means that your brand is one of a few limited options to the customers who walk in expecting to walk out with the product they need.
Getting into Home Depot stores also simplifies the selling process and can increase your margins, as you no longer need to pack and ship individual consumer orders or factor in the retailer’s warehouse storage or end consumer shipping costs. Not to mention, Home Depot has a devoted audience of loyal customers, including construction professionals.
With all of this in mind, in order to become a vendor at Home Depot, you will need to align with the company’s core values and mission, such as giving back, doing the right thing, taking care of your people and having an entrepreneurial spirit. In addition, you’ll need to meet a handful of specific requirements that change based on the products you’re selling.
Home Depot accepts products in the following categories:
Building Materials: Siding, insulation, ladders, concrete, roofing, gypsum, fencing, metal products, roofing, gutters and sunrooms
Lumber: Plywood, siding, dimensional lumber, landscape, fencing, melamine, decking, fencing, shims, shingles, installed playsets and boards
Paint: Interior paint, exterior paint, spray paint, paint sprayers, repair tools, applicators, safety tools, caulks, adhesives, tapes, sheeting, buckets and tarps
Electrical and Lighting: Interior lighting, exterior lighting, light bulbs, wiring devices, extension cords, fire safety products, conduits/boxes/fittings, ceiling fans, portable heating, mobile electronics, generators and ceiling fans services
Millwork: Moldings, millwork specialties, windows, screens, exterior doors, interior doors, paneling, patio doors, garage doors, storm doors, security doors and installation services
Wall and Floor Coverings: Vinyl plank, stock carpet, area rugs, floor tile, wall tile, ceilings, wood flooring, laminate flooring, carpet cleaning and installation services
Hardware: Fasteners, builder’s hardware, door locks, fasteners, compressors and safety/security systems
Tools: Hand tools, job site tools, portable power, storage devices, soldering tools, welding tools, utility trailers, storage devices, wet/dry vacuums, power tool accessories and protection plans
Plumbing: Pipes, fittings, pumps, irrigation, air circulation, water heaters, water treatments and HVAC systems
Garden and Outdoor: Grills, patio furniture, pool accessories, trailers, batteries, outdoor recreation equipment, patio structures, storage buildings, soils, chemicals, fertilizers, seed, planters, landscapes, hardscapes, mulch, decorative holiday supplies and home renovation services
Appliances: Cooking appliances, dishwashers, refrigerators, washers, dryers, air conditioners, fans, garbage disposers and appliance parts
Kitchen and Bath: Faucets, kitchen sinks, showerheads, bath accessories, vanities, tubs, showers, toilets, kitchen cabinets, countertops and installation services
Storage: Moving supplies, garage organization, wallpaper, shelf coverings, blinds, window treatments, window hardware, window film, interior shutters and general organization
When submitting, you’ll need to specify the product’s country of origin and whether it’s new to the market, already on the market or already offered at Home Depot (but you think you can offer a better price). Optionally, you can include the cost per unit and a suggested retail price in the application.
When filling out the new product submission form, you’ll also notice that Home Depot places regular insulation and Sustainable Forestry Initiative insulation in two separate categories, and they do the same for sunrooms and gutters.
Home Depot has a number of sustainability initiatives, including motions to include more products from partners participating in sustainable forestry projects. They also care about circularity, water conservation and reducing emissions. Aligning with these initiatives isn’t required to get into Home Depot, but it will certainly help.
When it comes to the absolutely non-optional aspects of getting products into Home Depot, you’ll need to demonstrate high product quality, strong safety standards and competitive pricing. To work together, you’ll also need to achieve EDI compliance, which means you can exchange documents in accordance with Home Depot’s requirements.
Preparing Your Product for Home Depot
While the application to submit your product may look simple enough, you’ll greatly increase your chances of having your offering accepted if you take some preliminary steps. First and foremost, before making your submission, you should research Home Depot’s current product offerings.
When browsing Home Depot’s website, make notes of gaps in the inventory that you could fill. If there are already similar products listed, go the extra mile in defining your product’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP) so that it stands out. Save the links to any similar products so you can reference them later.
When checking listings, take note of Home Depot’s standards and how they’re being applied on the live website across areas like:
Imagery: High-resolution images that showcase your product from multiple angles and highlight key features. Details, such as texture, should be shown with close-up images. In-context images are recommended to demonstrate how a product is installed and/or used.
Information: It’s essential that all information you provide to Home Depot about your product is accurate and complete. You should include technical specifications and dimensions in addition to specific features, benefits and use cases.
Optimization: When it comes time to write your product’s listing, keep in mind that your goal isn’t just to sell more items, but to enhance the shopping experience, minimize returns/complaints and support Home Depot's search engine optimization (SEO) efforts with keywords and phrases. You’ll need to review and update the listing often to stay on top of these goals.
As you go through competitive offerings, also consider improvements that can be made to your packaging and branding. Depending on the nature of the product, prepare product demonstrations or samples for the application.
Creating a Compelling Pitch for Home Depot
When writing the pitch for your product, you’ll need to strike a balance between being persuasive and informative and keeping your application succinct. This isn’t something you want to type up on a whim. Instead, you’ll want to utilize all the preliminary research you’ve done to make sure you highlight the key points, like your USP and any gaps you can fill in Home Depot’s current offerings.
As you craft your pitch, try to avoid the common mistake of editing as you write. Sit down and write out all of your product’s features and benefits, making sure to emphasize how your product aligns with Home Depot’s values. Where possible, insert data and testimonials to support your pitch.
Once you have everything on paper, that’s when you should go back and complete your first proofread, adding more information where you need to clarify and (more importantly) taking away superfluous details and anything that doesn’t have concrete evidence to back it.
Don’t feel the need to go through everything in your pitch. You’ll want to send along sales collateral and marketing materials that will explain the nuances of your product, like technical specifications, in case they’re interested. Use your pitch to convince them to take that next step by focusing on the unique properties of your product and the benefits it offers to customers.
Home Depot provides a single application for any supplier that wishes to list products in-store and/or online. The application is straightforward and entirely online, and it will ask for information such as:
General Information: Whether your company is an agent, distributor, manufacturer or something else, whether it’s a small or diverse business (i.e., minority-owned) and if you’re able to drop ship. You’ll also need to provide a primary contact name, title, phone number and email.
Product Information: You may submit up to five products with your application. For each, you’ll need to provide a description of up to 750 characters, its department and class and the country of origin. Pricing information is optional at this stage. At least one image is required for each product.
In the first step of the application process, you’ll be asked to agree to some terms and conditions, which include a statement that only non-confidential information will be shared in the form. Keep that in mind before submitting technical specifications or other unique information about the sourcing, manufacturing or functional aspects of your product.
Once you submit the application, the Home Depot Merchant Team will contact you within 60 days about the next steps. During the review process, you may be asked to provide additional information about the product. To ensure no correspondence is missed, it’s a good idea to list an alternate contact, which you can do in the first step of the application.
Building a Strong Relationship with Home Depot
Once your application is in the works, you can build a strong relationship with Home Depot even if your products have not yet been approved by the merchant team. You can do this by communicating effectively with your Home Depot contacts, responding to questions quickly and providing helpful information in the form of supporting materials and documents.
While there’s no way to speed up the review process, you can avoid unnecessary delays by being fully available to answer phone calls and emails from the Home Depot Merchant Team during normal business hours and utilizing that alternative contact person to streamline things further.
Going forward, if you want to be a valuable partner to Home Depot, it’s also a wise idea to begin learning more about the company, its values and its outlook. A great way to do this is by attending some of the events and trade shows Home Depot offers, which will not only help you align with the company but also advance in other areas of your business.
Logistics and Supply Chain Management
Home Depot sets expectations for how suppliers package products for shipment and how they process orders. Above all, products need to arrive safely at the customer’s doorstep, but they also need to be shipped out and delivered in a timely manner. If you’re drop shipping, this is entirely up to you.
If you’re selling items in-store or letting Home Depot sell your products online, you’ll want to collaborate closely with Home Depot’s distribution centers and warehouses. Proper coordination will reflect well on your company’s capabilities, experience and dedication.
Monitoring Performance and Adapting Strategy
Tracking sales and inventory data will enable you to gauge product performance and adjust your listings, imagery and USP accordingly to ensure you are meeting the expectations and needs of Home Depot’s shoppers. Likewise, you should take the time to review the feedback they’re sharing about your products.
Home Depot strives to offer robust, dependable products that are easy to use, and it’s up to you as a supplier to make that happen by continuously improving your designs and introducing new items to your catalog to keep your offerings competitive.
Once you’re partnered with Home Depot, you should also utilize any opportunities you have to collaborate on marketing initiatives and promotions, both in-store and online. Additionally, as market trends change, you should be adapting your marketing and sales strategies as proactively as possible to keep sales up.
Like all retailers, Home Depot conducts routine line reviews, which entails a complete evaluation of a certain category of products. During this review, the goal is to evaluate product assortment, performance, gaps and opportunities for innovation.
As you can imagine, if your products aren’t selling well, it’s possible that Home Depot will remove them from the catalog following a routine product line review, especially if they have many alternatives in your same category. On the other hand, line reviews can also be an opportunity to grow your assortment of products.
To ensure the best results from a line review, you should prepare by conducting self-assessments often. This means gathering data on product performance, customer feedback, market trends and similar products that are in Home Depot’s catalog because they’re adding new offerings all the time.
During line reviews, embrace the opportunity to present your latest improvements and ideas for expansion and/or collaboration. Of course, the first priority is to defend your current products by reinforcing their USPs and competitive advantages in a way that’s closely aligned with Home Depot’s values and customer base.
It’s not uncommon for retailers to offer feedback or voice concerns during a line review and any information — positive or critical — that is shared with your company during a review should be addressed promptly.
There’s no doubt that line reviews can be nerve-wracking, but they’re a necessary practice to help retailers focus their efforts in the right areas. As long as you’re actively working to tailor and improve your offerings for Home Depot, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.
On paper, Home Depot makes the vendor application process very straightforward, but that only adds to the sheer number of products being submitted for consideration every single day. If you believe in your product, you shouldn’t be discouraged, but you will want to take time to understand Home Depot’s values and align your pitch closely with the needs of its customer base.
Once you submit your application, it may take up to 60 days to hear back but don’t consider that idle time. By actively pursuing branding, marketing and partnership opportunities for your building materials company, you can increase your odds of having your products accepted into Home Depot with each passing day until you hear back.
Lastly, even if your products aren’t accepted into Home Depot the first time you try, don’t let that discourage you from continuing to seek out partnerships. Utilize any feedback you receive from Home Depot’s advisors to make your products even better for their audience and try again once you’ve made those adjustments.
Persistence goes far, but if you’re eager to expand your reach to new markets and partners, you might need some help along the way. If you’d like to learn more about the steps you can take to improve your company’s marketing efforts, get in touch with Venveo and explore the strategies you can utilize to reach your goals.