HD usually does things right but.... Central ized buying does have some problems. For instance, the Tampa, FL buyer (or wherever it was down south) is as ill equipped to buy snow shovels as the Chicago buyer is to buy pool supplies and garden equipment year round. Also, since we know that many buyers, although not all, are in the habit of taking "gifts", the larger volume of purchases from a central buyer enhances the product line buyer's power and thus his (or her's) ability to receive the gratuities. The anti-kickback squad has to be on their toes.
Wal-Mart seems to pull off the centralized buyer thing and they do 250 billion (5x's Home Depot).
Hell Wal-Mart even does most of the store scheduling from BENTONVILLE, so Home Depot could atleast get the buying right.
The main difference is that the field soldiers (store associates) at Wal-Mart buy into what goes on in Bentonville and old school Home Depot ee's won't buy into Nardeli's ideas. I am not saying they are always right, but that is the difference!!
I also went into a Lowe's the other day and noticed the hand scanners (similar to Wal-Mart) being used for inventory management. Depot is still using the bulky and often broken Mobile Ordering carts with very over worked IMA's.
I don't own Depot or Lowe's and don't work for either I am just intrigued by the two horse race these two are in!!!