Nearly two years, following Home Depot’s 2019 “Investor and Analyst Conference,” it was reported that shrink, or product theft and losses, is a bigger issue, potentially worsened by the opioid crisis and the ease at which stolen products can be quickly resold online.
At the time, several news outlets, such as the LA Times, also reported that:
[Home Depot is] installing technology so that power tools won’t work unless they go through the retailer’s point-of-sale system.
Technology that prevents power tools from working unless they go through the point of sale system? How’s that going to work with cordless power tools, which are arguably the largest segment of power tools purchased today?
I listened to a transcript of the presentation and Q&A session, and Home Depot did indeed say that they are accelerating plans around technology that can help bring shrink down, including point of sale activation where you buy a power tool, and the only time that power tool can work is if it goes through a point of sale.
In other words, it seems that Home Depot is experimenting with technology that prevents power tools from working unless you buy them at a register.
They said this is one of several pilots to better secure higher-valued products.
What kinds of power tools? Which brands? I suppose this is related to which power tools are most commonly stolen from stores. “Power tools” can also mean different things.
HOW will this be done?
Some cordless power tool brands have specific models and connected technologies that allow tools to be locked-out via an app, but you need an app to do it. I don’t think I have ever seen these tools, such as Milwaukee One-Key, sold at Home Depot stores.
Home Depot has been in the news again recently and several readers have pointed me towards a Business Insider story that says the plans are now being set into motion.
Home Depot is introducing power tools that won’t work if they’re stolen.
It has been around 20 months since this initiative was first announced, and despite the fresh media attention, there is no indication as to which brands and tools this will affect, and how the anti-theft measure will work.
News story point to Bluetooth connectivity being involved, where tools are unlocked at registers or remain locked and inoperable if stolen, but the vast majority of cordless power tools today lack such connectivity options.
This will continue to be an interesting development to follow.
This post was originally published on 12/12/2019 and updated on 8/3/2021.