Home Depot plans massive nationwide expansion

If you live in one of the 40 largest markets in the U.S, an e-commerce fulfillment center or flatbed distribution center is likely headed your way. With its online sales growing 21.5% in fiscal 2017, Home Depot recently announced plans to invest $1.2 billion over the next five years to speed delivery to 90% of the U.S. population in one day or less.

Responding to changing consumer and retail demands, the retailer will add 170 distribution facilities across the country, including dozens of direct fulfillment centers and 100 hubs for direct shipment of customers for bulk items such as appliances and patio furniture.

Initial plans call for the development of around seven e-commerce fulfillment centers and 40 flatbed distribution centers in the 40 largest U.S. markets, enabling next-day, same-day deliver of products to consumers. As of 2017, the Jacksonville metropolitan area was the country’s 40th largest with 1,504,980 residents.

According to Mark Holifield, the company’s executive vice president of supply chain and product development,customers “expect delivery to be free, they expect it to be timely,” he said. “Sometimes they want it fast, and are willing to pay for that. Sometimes they want it free, and they’re willing to wait for it. We need to have the right options there.”

The company opened its first Direct Fulfillment Center (DFC) in Locust Grove, GA in 2012. By the end of 2016, they had five DFCs in the U.S and two in Canada. Its Troy Township DFC covers 1.6 million square feet and employs 1,000. With thousands of new jobs on the line, expect the competition to heat up in the next few years as economic development agencies position themselves to land the next fulfillment or flatbed distribution center.

This news is just as small part of an $11 billion plan by the retailer to re-engineer the company’s retail strategy to reduce transportation costs, improve inventory management and integrate its online business with its 2,280 brick-and-mortar locations.

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com