Inside Lowe’s omnichannel strategy

Buy online, pick up in store now accounts for 60% of the home-improvement retailer’s orders.
article cover


· 3 min read

That DIY project you finally got around to during Covid? It forever changed Lowe’s omnichannel strategy.

Within six weeks of the pandemic, Lowe’s introduced curbside pickup, Neelima Sharma, Lowe’s SVP of e-commerce, marketing, and merchandising technology, told Retail Brew.

  • BOPIS now accounts for 60% of total orders, only a slight decline from a pandemic high of ~70%, she said.

It was one of the first moves that reshaped the company’s thinking.

“What we’re building is a ground-up omnichannel technology architecture, so that at any point in that journey, from inspiration to installation, customers’ experience across multiple touchpoints—stores, online, contact center—is as seamless as possible,” Sharma said.

E-comm habits are informing how Lowe’s approaches its stores, Sharma said, with the retailer now making it a point to group products that are typically bought together online. For example, she noted that Lowe’s moved its rugs from the carpet section of stores to its home-decor section.

“We realized that people who are buying a rug, they’re typically in a decor setting. They’re looking at a curtain, then they’re looking at a plant, and then they’re looking at the artwork, and then they’re selecting a rug,” Sharma said. “Now we’ve done that, and our rugs are selling like hotcakes.”

Change it up: Getting out ahead of consumer expectations is key, said Joe Derochowski, VP and home industry advisor at the NPD Group. “There’s been a lot of changes in how people get inspired on the research, how they make the transaction, how they pay, and how they get delivered,” he told us, shifting the conversation more to, “How do we make that easier for the consumer?”

Sharma echoed that much of the challenge with curating an omnichannel experience today is keeping up with the needs and speeds of shoppers. They want their experience to be more frictionless, and she’s noticed a shift in comfort levels, particularly online. So Lowe’s has updated its tool kit accordingly.

  • The retailer partnered with Instacart last month to offer same-day delivery services in Boston and Charlotte.
  • It has also invested in augmented reality so customers can measure appliances in their spaces, plus QVC-style live-streaming to help DIYers with their home projects.
Stay up to date on the retail industry

All the news and insights retail pros need to know, all in one newsletter. Join over 180,000 retail professionals by subscribing today.

The goal for Lowe’s at the end of the day, Sharma said, is to make it easy for customers to shop wherever they want.

"Our shopping journeys are long, right?” Sharma said. “These are big purchases they’re making...We want to provide customers [with] tools, that way, any need for them to go to the store is mitigated in case they don’t want to go there.”

Looking ahead…With the home-improvement category expected to continue growing, Kearney partner Michael Brown believes omnichannel is where those retailers should focus their efforts.

“They need to think about both the integral interaction with the consumer physically and digitally together. And then also need to really think about the deployment of their assets based on that,” he said. “So, expanding chains of stores where necessary, contracting them where necessary, continuing to push the customer from one channel to the other—an integrated experience is the only way to go.”

Correction: This story has been updated on March 24, 2022 to note that Lowe’s introduced curbside pickup within six weeks of the pandemic, not buy online, pick up in store.

Stay up to date on the retail industry

All the news and insights retail pros need to know, all in one newsletter. Join over 180,000 retail professionals by subscribing today.