One of the most visited aisles in any Home Depot store is the Moving Supplies department. Moving is a rite of passage that everyone goes through, and everyone has packed at least one moving box before. These boxes contain the pieces of your life, so finding the right box is incredibly important.
It’s Scott Borgert’s job to help make your transition a little easier. We sat down with Scott to talk about sustainable innovations in the Moving Supplies department.
EA: For those unfamiliar with the role, could you explain what a merchant does at The Home Depot?
SB: Certainly! Being a merchant at The Home Depot is akin to acting as a CEO for several niche businesses. My role involves collaborating closely with teams that span Inventory, Marketing, Pricing, Finance, Space Planning, Field Merchandising, Assortment Planning and Execution. Our collective goal is ensuring we offer the right product, at the right price, in the ideal location.
EA: Which specific categories or departments fall under your purview?
SB: I oversee several departments but primarily Moving Supplies.
EA: How frequently do you interact with shoppers, and what are they generally seeking in moving products?
SB: Every Thursday, we dedicate time to engage directly with customers in our stores. This helps us understand their needs firsthand. We also rely on data and insights from our vendors to identify shopping trends, ensuring our decision-making process strikes a balance between intuition and analytics.
EA: Can you shed light on your interaction with suppliers and the influence they have on in-store offerings?
SB: Our suppliers play a pivotal role in The Home Depot’s success. They not only provide a unique perspective on customer product requirements, but are also key in making those products available in our stores. As a merchant, I always seek innovative solutions to meet customer needs, and I expect our suppliers to share this proactive approach.
EA: How do sustainability and the principles of a circular economy shape your merchandising decisions in the Moving Supplies category, especially regarding products or packaging? Are there any notable innovations you’re observing that address environmental concerns?
SB: Home Depot places significant emphasis on sustainability, especially in areas like packaging. For instance, our leading supplier for Moving Supplies, Pratt, is exploring ways to integrate circular design, which allows product materials to be reused over and over while leaving the smallest footprint possible. A notable innovation from them is honeycomb wrap and the “Paper Bubble” – a potential alternative to traditional, resin-based Bubble Wrap. It might not be as enjoyable to pop as Bubble Wrap, but it marks a step forward in environmental sustainability.
EA: How do the Eco Actions pillars align with the products you oversee? Just as a reminder, these pillars are Carbon Emissions, Responsible Chemistry, Circularity, Sustainable Forestry and Water Conservation.
SB: Several pillars directly influence our products. All of our Pratt OCC (old corrugated cardboard) boxes and packing papers are made from 100% recycled materials, ensuring no virgin paper is utilized. As for our Bubble Wrap, we recognize the challenges with resin. That said, we’re in the process of reducing the amount of resin used and decreasing the roll sizes. We redesigned the product to increase its strength while reducing the material used by 30%. With less volume, that translates to more room at stores and fewer trucks on the road, thereby reducing carbon emissions. We also changed our dish-packing kit from foam to low-density polyethylene, which makes it recyclable. To give some specifics, we save approximately 511 million gallons of water annually, we’ve managed to conserve up to 292 million kWh of electricity and our initiatives have protected around 1.2 million trees.
EA: Can you spotlight any particular products or suppliers that stand out in your lineup?
SB: Absolutely! We’re excited about the Pratt Eco Wardrobes, which are set to debut in stores come November. They’re designed to transport clothing. Made entirely from recycled materials while retaining the strength that wardrobe boxes typically require, they underscore our commitment to sustainability. Additionally, our previously mentioned Paper Bubble and honeycomb wrap offer customers excellent environmentally preferred alternatives.
EA: As we look toward the future, what environmentally preferred product innovations or services do you anticipate becoming essential or highly sought-after in this category?
SB: Speedy delivery will certainly be a service in demand. We also envision innovations, such as boxes, that are thinner while still keeping their strength. There’s a clear need for more collapsible large boxes to accommodate easier transport in smaller vehicles. From a broader standpoint, our focus is on simplifying decisions for customers. We constantly approach our offerings from their perspective to ease both product selection and usage. While there’s a growing demand for environmentally preferred solutions, we have to keep our focus on affordability. There are numerous outstanding, environmentally preferred products available, but many come with a hefty price tag. Striking a balance between sustainability and affordability is our priority.
EA: What aspects of this category genuinely excite you for the future of Moving Supplies?
SB: I’m truly invigorated by our journey toward greater sustainability. It’s encouraging to see enhanced recyclability in resin products, and we’re making headway in transitioning away from less environmentally friendly materials in foam and bubble products. Additionally, the exploration of new solutions and our efforts to prominently showcase the sustainable features of our products really drive my passion in this category.