Lowe’s Digital and Omnichannel Upgrades Shine Amid 4.3% Decreased Sales


Lowe’s is seeing strength in the home improvement category due to efficiencies of digital and omnichannel selling that’s become a pillar for the retailer.

That’s despite inflation and weird weather across the United States in the first months of the year, which slowed the company’s three-year momentum. Comparable sales were down 4.3%.

Hitting some of the same points as its competitor The Home Depot did in its earnings results, Lowe’s Chairman, President and CEO Marvin Ellison told analysts and investors during its first-quarter earnings call Tuesday (May 23) that lumber deflation, a late start to spring, and a pivot to smaller DIY projects dinged its Q1 performance, as DIY represents 75% of its business.

Ellison and Lowe’s leadership touched on aspects of the company’s Perpetual Productivity Improvement Initiatives (PPI) during the earnings briefing, talking up a series of digital upgrades in-store and online that the retailer sees as core to its growth going forward.

“As an example, we’re replacing our 30-year-old operating system with a modern omnichannel architecture that will enable a seamless, intuitive customer experience while removing complexity for associates,” he said. “This project has been underway for four years, and we are pleased that we are on track to retire all legacy green screens by the end of this year.”

Digital and DIY Go Together

Mentioning the positive benefits of “continued acceleration of our MVPs Pro Rewards Program and [customer relationships management (CRM)] tool, coupled with our improved pro assortment, inventory depth and omnichannel capabilities,” Ellison noted the increasing role of digital and omnichannel in both DIY and pro.

“Online growth was supported by an increase in pro sales as we continue to upgrade our pro digital experience with new tools and personalization,” he said. “We also continue to enhance our DIY online experience by making home improvement projects easier for consumers to visualize, estimate and shop. These investments are paying off with higher online convergence and attachment rates.”

Executive Vice President of Merchandising Bill Boltz expanded on Ellison’s remarks with some detail into how Lowe’s investments in digital and omnichannel have supported productivity in a transitional quarter for home improvement retailers that have enjoyed a three-year run of intense professional renovations and DIY home projects that marked the pandemic era.

“Appliances are a great example of an omnichannel category where customers often compare options online, then visit our showroom to see products in person, then get their questions answered by one of our appliance specialists,” Boltz said. “And with our improved online capabilities like easy scheduling and order tracking, we continue to see more and more of our customers getting comfortable completing their purchases online.”

He gave an estimate that 100,000 major appliances break every day in the U.S., adding that “our investments in fast appliance delivery and a seamless omnichannel shopping experience positions us well as the go-to destination for these urgent and often non-discretionary needs.”

Boltz also spoke of Lowe’s increasing use of its own brands.

“Our private brand strategy allows us to deliver value to DIY customers who are looking for high-quality on-trend products at more affordable price points, which enables us to provide differentiation, loyalty and profitability,” he said.

These activities dovetail with tech upgrades chainwide. Boltz added that in Q1, Lowe’s completed the rollout of new dedicated Zebra smartphones for all sales associates.

Boltz said the new system “automatically prioritizes planogram changes, pricing updates and other projects to optimize associates’ time on the most efficient, highest value next task. And it also gives associates step-by-step instructions to maximize productivity and minimize the learning curve for new associates. This app was built internally to seamlessly integrate with our other mobile apps.”

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