Home Improvement Channel

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Home Improvement Channel

By Steve Frenda - 06/01/2019

A recent ranking by Morning Consult of the “most loved brands in America” (based on analysis of more than 400,000 consumer/shopper interviews) revealed The Home Depot as No. 5 and Lowe’s as No. 11, joining Hershey’s, Disney, Amazon and Google in the top 25. (Other retailers on the top 25 include Walmart, Target, Walgreens and Dollar Tree). Consider that Home Depot has 1,980 stores in the U.S., while Lowe’s has 1,723. Compare that to Walmart’s 4,761 and Ace Hardware’s 4,418. In my mind, experiential retail and digital transformation have not been at the forefront of these home improvement chain’s strategies, but we are now seeing considerable movement. Here, I’m outlining some of the changes I’m observing. It appears to me that Home Depot is moving more quickly with digital, while Lowe’s is taking the lead with in-store experience.

  • At Lowe’s in April, grills and smokers led the way on the retailer’s app and home page as well as in-store. The cooperative efforts with brands are more prominent in stores, with Weber products leading the way in this case.
  • Home Depot offers an innovative digital effort with its Appliance Finder kiosk. In today’s world, e-commerce provides you with endless options. For such a considered purchase, many of the brands and features have already been identified. But with a store only having fewer than 10% of the items on display, shoppers might see another model or want to double check specifications. The Appliance Finder lets shoppers find the exact match for their needs.
  • You might be aware that Stanley Black & Decker is continuing to build a bigger retail footprint for its Craftsman brand, and Craftsman products seem to have found a terrific home at Lowe’s. The displays are impactful and powerful.
  • What would a home improvement store be without a display for connected home products? In Lowe’s stores that don’t have the smart home showroom, there are a number of branded displays that feature the smart products from Nest, Ring, Google and others. This is a big and growing category.
  • Lowe’s really turned up the heat on its Pro Customers initiative in 2019. This vertical is only 30% of Lowe’s’ current revenue, and the feeling is that percentage needs to increase dramatically. Bigger transactions than DIY and additional loyalty are key goals. There are special reception areas and reserved parking for the Pros, as well as specially trained managers and designated loaders for heavy loads.
  • In late April, the “thrill of the Grill” theme was front and center on Home Depot’s Facebook page and was hard to miss as I walked into the store. The theme was supported by a number of displays, including several with Traeger wood fired grills.
  • On the mobile app front, Home Depot is blazing a trail. My store is geo-located, and the ability to scan, verbally request or type in an item is there and extremely intuitive. Notice in the exhibits, the store, aisle and number of items in inventory are readily visible. Additionally, by clicking on “See In-Store Map,” an interactive map delivers flawless results. While Walmart’s app has a similar functionality, Home Depot’s functionality is world class.
  • Home Depot’s Pick Up In Store option is prominently displayed in two ways: automated lockers in the outside lobby, as well as a prominent vault at the service desk. Home Depot touts two-hour pickup for items available in-store and two-day delivery to stores for more than a million items.

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