Home Depot rolls out machine learning-based employee app

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Home Depot is helping store associates know which tasks to accomplish first.

Home Depot store associates have a new mobile “sidekick” developed to help them prioritize tasks more effectively.

The home improvement giant’s new proprietary app, called Sidekick, is an addition to mobile devices it recently provided store associates called hdPhones. Home Depot’s hdPhones are equipped with Wi-Fi 6 capabilities, a long-range scanner, and all-day battery strength, allowing associates to locate products quickly and assist customers both inside the store and in exterior areas such as the parking lot. As a result, the company intends to help associates remove friction from the in-store shopping experience for our customers.

[Read more: Exclusive Q&A with Home Depot senior VP, technology]

Leveraging a cloud-enabled machine learning (ML) algorithm, the app guides associates to prioritize the highest-demand products. Sidekick also utilizes machine vision to identify which shelves associates should restock, and the location of excess product on overhead shelves.

In addition, the app alerts specific associates which tasks need to be completed first via a common tasking engine, and showcases where and how to complete a task in a dashboard with associate and manager views. Sidekick also integrates with other platforms to ensure all data and task prioritization is up-to-date and aligned with the retailer’s broader business needs.

"The first step to customer service is being in stock with the right product that's easy to locate," said Muzammil Akram, VP for store technology of The Home Depot. "Equipping our associates with innovative technology is one key factor in delivering on that initiative. Sidekick is the perfect addition to hdPhones because it utilizes a data-driven approach to help our associates prioritize which tasks will benefit our customers the most."

Home Depot developed hdPhones in collaboration with Zebra Technologies, HPE, and Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company. Since launch, the retailer has rolled out more than 99,000 hdPhone devices across all U.S. stores. Home Depot has already installed Sidekick in more than 600 stores and plans to expand deployment to all U.S. stores by the end of the 2022 fiscal year.

The Home Depot is the world's largest home improvement specialty retailer. At the end of the third quarter of fiscal year 2022, the company operated a total of 2,319 retail stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, 10 Canadian provinces and Mexico. The company employs approximately 500,000 associates.