, a Home Depot company and flagship property of Global Custom Commerce, celebrates its 25th anniversary as an e-commerce retailer. A long-time industry leader in the configurable home décor space, company leaders reflect on how innovation, customer engagement, and experimenting without fear grew the company from humble beginnings in a Houston garage to a technological partner and innovation leader for the world’s largest home improvement retailer.


“We wanted to be the role model for integration into The Home Depot,” says Steve O’Connor, President of GCC Operations. “Being an ambidextrous organization means we can offer the optimal experience in our blinds business, as well as own and grow the technology which powers new and innovative experiences in The Home Depot ecosystem.”


Early Innovators debuted on the internet in 1996 as “NoBrainerBlinds.” It was the first e-commerce platform to sell custom, made-to-measure window treatments entirely online. While online orders were still processed by hand back then, it marked a significant moment in the company’s history – a fearless embrace of emerging technology combined with an “anything-it-takes” attitude to provide customers with the best service.


Experimenting without fear of failure would become a core value for the organization. "Our core value of experimenting without fear of failure is the foundation of our atmosphere of innovation,” said Kristen Decker, GCC Director of Category Experience.  “It's okay to be wrong. It's okay to suggest something. You can test it and find out that your hypothesis was completely wrong and you're not going to get in trouble. You're not going to lose trust from the team – instead you’ll be asked what you learned from the experiment. It's not only encouraged – it’s expected."



Technology for Today and Tomorrow


Global Custom Commerce made investments in technology and innovation as the company grew. Besides offering a wide range of customizable window treatment styles with upgradable features, the brand was always looking for creative ways to make shopping for home décor easier for customers. even launched its own private label of products, offering high quality, affordable window treatments alongside other top brands and styles. Other innovative products such as Simplicity Shutters made one of the most difficult window treatments to install easier for customers.


As one of the early adopters of digital print-on-demand technology in the décor space, and its manufacturers embraced new printing technology to reduce wastewater and excess fabric waste when creating custom materials. In 2020, announced SimplyEco Cellular Shades, an innovative and eco-friendly window treatment made from recycled water bottles. And with strict adherence to the newest child safety laws regarding window treatment cord length and cordless, motorization alternatives, safety and sustainability are at the forefront of the company initiatives.


Before merging with The Home Depot,’s primary focus was making the online shopping experience as easy as possible for customers. Service and technology innovations such as a best-in-class samples shop, free, expert advice from Design Consultants in the Customer Experience Center, mobile-first site optimizations and user experience updates, custom configurator technology, and more led to being a dominant figure in the home décor space.


“We wanted to offer not only the best products available, but the easiest shopping experience available,” says Amber Hall, Vice President of Merchandising at GCC. “From free design consultations to peace of mind surrounding child safety standards, our motto of ‘making it easy’ has always been a priority.”


The advent of Autobahn –’s technology platform which allowed customers to “build” and order their custom window treatments directly from the online product page – marked another significant turning point for the brand.


“Autobahn allowed us to leverage technology in a significant way,” says Seth Todd, GCC Senior Director of Interconnected Retail. “When customers could easily build and configure their custom window treatments, it not only grew the business, but also gave unlimited space for the technology to grow as a platform. The growth and potential of Autobahn was consequential to our merge with The Home Depot in 2014.”



Interconnected Retail


“Autobahn’s capabilities and potential were a perfect match for The Home Depot’s strategy and vision,” says O’Connor. The Home Depot acquired a dominant home décor business with decades of e-commerce experience, and GCC was able to showcase and expand the Autobahn platform in new and innovate ways.


Complex capabilities such as DesignBuilder, where customers can begin custom remodeling design projects online and continue the experience in a Home Depot store and vice-versa, or Measure and Install, where customers can add professional, in-home services to online or in-store orders, represented a turning point for both organizations. The merger offered customers the premier products and thoughtful innovation which customers came to expect from both brands, as well as cutting-edge project selling across multiple categories and features.


“The two-way integration between our brands offers the best of both organizations,” says O’Connor. “Not only did our services and vision align on technology and innovation, but the emphasis on taking care of our associates and customers lined up perfectly, as well.”


As the Autobahn capabilities continue to evolve and grow with The Home Depot, new categories like custom countertops, custom decking, and millwork are utilizing the configurator technology to make entire projects – previously complicated and difficult – even easier for customers.


“Innovation is what caught the attention of The Home Depot and led to a partnership in 2014 that is changing customers’ entire experience when it comes to tackling home improvement projects,” says Tim Coonfield, Director of GCC Interconnected Retail. “Autobahn, our configurator platform, can be used to sell any customizable product online – not just blinds.”


A Look Ahead


GCC now consists of about 400 employees dedicated to the core blinds business, Interconnected Retail with The Home Depot, and serving customers in the Customer Experience Center. The organization has grown from the founder’s early efforts to sell made-to-order blinds online to a comprehensive technology company that creates customizable online retailing experiences for The Home Depot.  


“Innovation is in our DNA,” says Coonfield. “One of the things I love about this organization is there’s always considerable thought to what’s next.”


Throughout the journey, nurtured a small company feel in its day-to-day operations. It’s hard to predict where the next 25 years will lead, but the core values of improve continuously, experiment without fear, express yourself, and enjoy the ride will always point in the right direction.


“As an integral part of The Home Depot's e-commerce strategy, we are tasked with creating technology solutions that don't yet exist,” said Todd. “We can't just find a user group and conduct A/B tests. We have to start with ideas, lots of ideas, to ultimately change how retail works through technology – technology that we are creating.”