Companies can no longer pretend that mobile is simply a passing fad. There are over 137 million smartphone users in the United States, and that number continues to increase daily. Numerous forward-thinking retail stores are turning to mobile to engage with their customers on the go, drive foot traffic into their stores, and make the overall shopping experience more convenient. Here’s how one home improvement store is using the mobile channel to create value for their customers, and here’s what you can learn from their case study.
Lowe’s has grown to become one of the most popular home improvement stores in the United States. But it wasn’t always a household name. The first location, owned by entrepreneur Lucius Lowe, opened its doors in rural North Carolina back in 1921. And it wasn’t until the 1950s that they actually began store expansion. At the time the store was owned by Carl Buchan, son in law of Lucius Lowe. He set his sights on growth and began opening up several locations across the state of North Carolina. Mr. Buchan passed away in 1960. His partners went public with the company in 1961, and the store has continued its rapid expansion since then. Today there are over 1750 stores across the United States, and Lowe’s is beginning to expand into Canada.
For all intents and purposes, Lowe’s is a late comer to the mobile space. The company did not launch their mobile website until the 2010 holiday season. And their first mobile apps for iPhone and Android didn’t come along until 2011. As mobile continued to experience explosive growth around the globe, the home improvement store decided they could not afford to ignore the channel any longer. But as they say, better late than never. Today mobile accounts for 20% of the web traffic that the store receives.
Today Lowe’s has three mobile apps plus a mobile optimized site geared towards weekend warriors focused on improving their homes. The mobile apps offer a variety of interesting features. Potential customers can use the Lowe’s apps to compare prices and learn about products, browse through home photos to give them ideas for their own projects, make purchases, locate nearby stores, and track their purchase history and create shopping lists through the My Lowe’s rewards program.
The company has also developed the Lowe’s Creative Ideas mobile app for those interested in planning for future projects and getting a little design inspiration for their homes. The magazine style app is free to download, and provides valuable tips and tricks on home improvement topics such as gardening, decor, lighting, and paint. For several months, Lowe’s Creative Ideas was one of the most popular downloads on iTunes. It’s a great example of a mobile app that is truly focused on creating concrete value for the store’s customers. The Creative Ideas app is both inspiring and helpful.