Lowe’s strengthens shopping experience with professional service recommendations
Starting May 5, Lowe’s is equipping all 1,717 retail locations nationwide with mobile and Web resources that enable store associates to connect homeowners with local service professionals, marking the first time the home improvement chain will direct consumers to a Web site other than its own.
The expansion of a 139-store strategic partnership with home remodeling site Porch.com will give Lowe’s associates access to in-store kiosks or a mobile application that connects customers to specialized authorities on services that Lowe’s does not offer through its installation program. By offering products in correlation with home improvement assistance, Lowe’s hopes to better meet the needs of customers and prompt them to make home improvement projects a reality.
“As our company evolves, we are committed to integrating technology to enhance the in-store support that our employees offer customers,” said Amanda Manna, corporate public relations manager at Lowe’s, Mooresville. “Home improvement is extremely personal and in many cases customers want someone to help them talk through their project before they are actually ready to begin.
Since January, Lowe’s has had a limited partnership with Porch, which has now extended into a national resource.
Professionals can create a free profile on Porch.com, which displays their nearby projects and allows happy customers to endorse their services.
The Seattle-based startup also aggregates home improvement data about millions of United States homes, allowing the company to provide interested parties with information about who the most popular contractors are in a given demographic and, in partnership with Realtor.com, what type of remodel work was done by a previous owner on a house an individual is interested in buying, such as the type of project, when it was completed, what it cost and who did the work.
The new countrywide initiative is being promoted through in-store signage and word of mouth by Lowe’s associates to anyone looking for a professional recommendation. Upfront posters throughout stores ask, “Need a landscaper?” or “Need an electrician?” then “Meet Porch.com, where you’ll find the right professional for your project.”
As prices and inventory availability become more transparent online, retailers have to give consumers a reason to choose their store over the competition.
Consumers no longer shop at a retailer simply because it happens to be where a product is carried. Instead, they will seek out retailers that provide value in new and innovative ways.
When homeowners seek out information on local homes or for professional services, sites such as Zillow or Trulia similarly provide facts, including a home’s most recent selling price.
Angie’s List and Craigslist also aid with search, pulling up local and trusted service providers. But Porch, in its partnership with Lowe’s attempts something different by providing service and supply through the home improvement sector.
The Porch service currently features more than 1.5 million professionals and data for more than 100 million projects.
Yesterday’s launch also complements the reveal of Porch Premium earlier this month. This paid service allows contractors to feature their services and highlight them to customers in specific ZIP codes.
The partnership is a loyalty-based move that helps Lowe’s fortify its commitment to helping customers whenever and however they choose to engage with the company.
While Lowe’s offers flooring and cabinet installation, there are more technical jobs that it does not cater to such as plumbing or painting. The Porch service caters to in-store customers seeking those services and adds value to customers who are professionals themselves by eliciting a demand for their skills.
“Purchases are becoming less and less planned, and with home improvement, it’s key that consumers have a solution to buy supplies, get advice, find the right professional and get the job done right,” said Matt Ehrlichman CEO of Porch, Seattle.
“Porch and Lowe’s are uniquely positioned to deliver real-time services and products that help homeowners at a critical time in managing their home,” he said. “Porch is creating a relevant experience around individual needs.
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York