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Home Depot lays its e-commerce foundation

The retailer plans soon to start selling its 40,000 home-improvement products through a Web-based store to customers in the Las Vegas area.

    Genuine brick-and-mortar retailer Home Depot will soon start selling its 40,000 home-improvement products through a Web-based store to customers in Las Vegas.

    The company is aiming the initial program at its six stores in the Las Vegas area--one of the fastest-growing parts of the country--before it launches the e-commerce offering nationwide in coming months.

    A pilot group of home-building professionals this week began using the online service in advance of its expansion to all customers in metropolitan Las Vegas. Prices are the same online as in Home Depot's physical stores, the company said in a statement.

    A late entry into the crowded online home-improvement market, Home Depot is banking on its size and strong brand presence to put the squeeze on competitors such as Amazon.com.

    The new online strategy is an extension of Home Depot's retail stores and customer service program.

    "Integrated commerce is just another example of doing business on the customers' terms," Jeff Cohen, Home Depot's group president for direct marketing businesses, said in a statement. "We are offering one more way for customers--pros and do-it-yourselfers--to shop our stores."

    The site has features for both professionals and so-called do-it-yourself customers. Those features include stock inventory lists tailored by profession, such as plumbing or electrical; custom shopping lists that highlight the latest pricing of frequently bought commodity items; and credit card services.

    Customers can search for products three ways: by key word, by brand or by SKU (stock keeping unit). After making a purchase, customers can request a pickup at a specific store or have products delivered through the Home Depot trucking service or United Parcel Service (UPS).

    Atlanta-based Home Depot will use the results from the Las Vegas program to determine how it will expand its online sales to additional markets later this year. San Antonio and Austin, Texas, are the next two markets where the online service will be introduced.