Home improvement retailers Home Depot and Lowe’s have made significant strides to smooth out omnichannel strategies to enable shoppers to do things like pick up and return online orders in their brick-and-mortar locations and to gain visibility into inventory across multiple store locations, Digital Commerce 360 reports.
Home Depot CEO Craig Menear stated on a recent earnings call that more than 45% of the retailer’s online orders are picked up in one of its physical stores, while Lowe’s said in a recent SEC filing that about 60% of its online orders are picked up in store and 40% of shoppers picking up such orders also make other unrelated in-store purchases when they arrive for pick-up, according to the report.
Both retailers also have been aggressively putting mobile technology in the hands of their store associates. Lowe’s for example, has six different mobile apps that might be used while helping a customer in-store, and Home Depot has made sure its associates use the retailer’s mobile app while helping customers to ensure they are seeing the same pricing and availability that customers are seeing.
Home improvement retailers have been on a short list of companies in the retail sector that have been turning in solid sales at a rather dark and dismal time for the rest of the sector. Home Depot earlier this month said its first quarter earnings grew by 5% to almost $24 billion, while its net earnings jumped about 12%. Meanwhile, for the same period, Lowe's' sales increase 10.7%, though the overall financial performance for the quarter failed to meet analyst expectations.
Some of this relative health can be explained by a housing market surge and the fact that home improvement retailers don't feel the competitive body blows from Amazon as frequently and as directly as other types of retailers do. Home improvement retailers are able to escape the threat from Amazon in part because customers shopping for Do It Yourself products often need to go to a physical store location, either to measure materials and have them cut or manipulated, or just to carry away items that might be too large and expensive to ship.
However, these retailers aren't underestimating the number of customers who are increasingly leaning toward conducting at least some part of their shopping journey online or on mobile. For example, a weekend home improver may jumps online first thing Saturday morning to search for materials for a project that must be completed before Sunday evening, or a contractor may must use his or her mobile phone at a project site to look up a needed part to order via mobile to pick up in-store to save time.
To meet the needs of those customers, Home Depot and Lowe's not only need have clear, up-to-date information online, and ability to buy online and pick up in-store, but also a willingness to provide customers with a great deal of inventory visibility and transparency across multiple store footprints. These retailers are clearly answering those needs.