Will lockers help Lowe’s pick up more sales?

Sep 23, 2020

George Anderson

Lowe’s announced that it plans to have self-service pickup lockers installed at its stores in most major metropolitan areas by Thanksgiving and those remaining by the end of March 2021.

The home improvement retailer, which operates more than 1,700 stores across the U.S., is aggressively expanding the availability of lockers at its locations following a 50-store test in Charlotte, Philadelphia and the New York tri-state area (CT, NJ and NY). A Lowe’s spokesperson told RetailWire that the stores with lockers registered “higher customer satisfaction scores and repeat visits.”

Orders, when placed online by customers, are staged by Lowe’s associates. Customers receive an automated email notification with a one-time user barcode. When they arrive at the store, they scan the barcode at the locker using their smartphone. The process enables them to skip the pickup line at the counter and eliminates the need for a touchscreen or keypad.

“With more than 60 percent of online orders picked up in our stores, this gives our customers one more option and the added convenience and flexibility to control how and when they get that order,” said Joe McFarland, Lowe’s executive vice president of stores. “This is a significant step in our relentless efforts to create a fast and frictionless shopping experience for today’s time-pressed customers.”

Will lockers help Lowe’s pick up more sales?
Photo: Lowe’s

Mr. McFarland told the Charlotte Business Journal that Lowe’s had moved up the installation of the lockers about a year ahead of its original plans. The chain expects that the majority of customers who used store pickup since the novel coronavirus outbreak began will continue to do so even when public threat levels eventually diminish.

Lowe’s sees its locker initiative as another piece of the puzzle in upping its digital sales and in-store technology capabilities in an effort to better serve its professional and non-professional customers.

The retailer announced in August that it was opening a second direct fulfillment center in Mira Loma, CA, next month. The facility, along with another in Nashville, opened in 2018 will enable Lowe’s to provide two-day delivery to almost 100 percent of its customers across the U.S.

Management also plans to open 50 cross-dock delivery terminals, seven bulk distribution centers and four e-commerce fulfillment warehouses over the next year-and-a-half. Lowe’s goal is to enable same- and next-day deliveries of online orders to its customers.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How do you rank the benefits of lockers versus traditional counter pickup services for consumers and retailers? How likely is it that retailers will try to shift their pickup models to focus more on self-service options similar to what Lowe’s is doing?

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“Maybe we’ll soon see mobile lockers roaming our neighborhoods on weekends to save us the three weekend trips to Lowe’s, Home Depot, or ACE.”

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