Lowe's Bets Big On Mobile - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Government // Mobile & Wireless
05:00 PM
Connect Directly

Lowe's Bets Big On Mobile

Retailer meets customers where they're shopping: in stores, online, and on the go.

Lowe's CEO Robert Niblock has characterized 2011 as "the largest singleyear investment in IT instore systems infrastructure in Lowe's history." That was the price of Lowe's going mobile.

In May 2011, the company said it planned to hire 300 employees to augment its 1,000-plus IT staff. It revamped its wireless network infrastructure at more than 1,700 stores to accelerate Wi-Fi speeds by as much as eight times for customers and employees, and it armed employees with 42,000 iPhones, augmented by custom apps and add-on hardware.

It's a recognition, as Niblock put it on an analyst call, that customers are "shopping across channels"--in stores and on the Web--with mobile blurring the lines.

Lowe's is embracing smartphone empowered shopping more than most retailers. With iPhones in hand, its employees can check inventory at nearby stores, share how-to videos, check competitor prices, and point shoppers to Lowes.com, says Jeffrey Chang, VP of IT innovation and strategy. They can access online tools for tasks such as calculating the amount of paint needed to cover a given room--without leaving the customer.

Critical to the Lowe's iPhone effort was the addition of a custom case that includes an additional battery and a credit card reader, so associates can complete sales transactions.

Lowe's developed two internal iOS apps, one for staffers and one for managers, as well as iOS and Android apps for customers.

One of 42,000 iPhones for staffers
One of 42,000 iPhones for staffers

The employee app gives staffers information about prices, inventory, and availability at nearby Lowe's stores. Employees can order products and ring up sales. And they can communicate with co-workers. The store manager app provides access to price changes, sales reports, order statuses, employee scheduling data, and interstore product transfers.

The customer app has the usual e-commerce features plus some mobile tricks, such as a button to call from the find-a-store feature, and the ability to scan UPC, QR, and Microsoft Tag codes. It also includes a set of tools called MyLowe's for organizing information about home projects and past purchases online, along with a selection of how-to videos. And now that tens of thousands of employees have iPhones in hand, Chang says Lowe's plans to keep adding features to the apps.

Lowe's spent about a year and a half "researching, prototyping, and testing concepts for our first iPhone app," Chang says. After that, development took six months.

Go to the 2012 InformationWeek 500 homepage

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Apprentice
9/12/2012 | 10:26:37 PM
re: Lowe's Bets Big On Mobile
The downside on concentrrating so much on their mobile apps is that the conventional internet page seems to be neglected and is quite poor, technical and content wise. It probbaly shows that the slogan doing more with less lacks credibility.
2021 Outlook: Tackling Cloud Transformation Choices
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  1/4/2021
Enterprise IT Leaders Face Two Paths to AI
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  12/23/2020
10 IT Trends to Watch for in 2021
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/22/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you.
Flash Poll