Director of Mobile Strategy and Platforms
Retail has a reputation of being a bit behind other industries in mobile technology, but Lowe’s is one of the exceptions. Its MyLowe’s mobile app has been one of the highlights—called out by experts as one of the more exemplary tools available for retail consumers. Sean Bartlett, director of mobile strategy and platforms, spoke with eMarketer’s Christine Bittar about the attributes of MyLowe’s and relevance in the home improvement category.
eMarketer: Tell me about the MyLowe’s app and its record-keeping feature.
Sean Bartlett: Purchase history is part of the MyLowe’s program. We initially introduced it in 2011 for desktop only and later made it available on mobile.
A customer can, of course, access purchase history on his or her mobile device, but our store associates can do it as well—something which can be extremely convenient, especially when a customer is interacting with an associate about a home project. We have 42,000 iPhones in our stores, or about 25 per store. Associates can scan the customer’s key fob or enter his or her information to bring up purchase history.
eMarketer: Do you think this is something that’s more important in some retail segments vs. others?
“Being able to bring up your purchase history—and essentially, your home profile—is especially valuable.”
Bartlett: The opportunity for this in retail—especially home improvement—is huge because [of the potential involvement with the sales associate and purchase specifications like measurements]. Store associates are outfitted with technology and can give advice, and it’s really powerful for the overall relationship if we can tie customer and associate.
This is something that’s very convenient and very efficient. Customers don’t have to save receipts and find them at a later time. Being able to bring up your purchase history—and essentially, your home profile—is especially valuable. One example of this coming in handy is if you can’t remember the dimensions of a room and decide to repaint.
Associates also love the MyLowe’s attributes because of the [enhanced] interactions with customers right in the aisles.
eMarketer: What does Lowe’s do in the way of mobile advertising?
Bartlett: We buy search and display advertising. Our search is highly specific and points to the mobile site. There are also other creative elements, like rich media, which [we use for] brand building and perhaps also to highlight promotions.
For our mobile ads, we’ve used the major outlets including Yahoo! and iAd. In general, I would say we’re going to continue mobile advertising.
eMarketer: How are you using iPhones in your stores? Do salespeople carry them around, or do they stay at checkout?
Bartlett: Associates use iPhones throughout the store in a variety of use cases. Sometimes it’s very task-specific, and sometimes it’s for a customer experience. Purchase history is one example, but we also have the ability for the entire user interface to rotate, and it becomes our consumer app. That means that at any point a customer in a store asks about a product or wants product ratings and reviews, associates are literally a tap away from having the exact same information in front of them.
We recently were also able to implement iPhone use at checkout, [somewhat like a point-of-sale system]. For instance, if there’s a long checkout line, an associate with an iPhone goes to the line and scans the items in a basket for a cashier. The associate can’t do a full checkout, but that scanning reduces the cashier’s work and speeds up the checkout process.
eMarketer: Are associates able to track down inventory via their iPhones?
“Associates use iPhones throughout the store in a variety of use cases. Sometimes it’s very task-specific, and sometimes it’s for a customer experience.”
Bartlett: Yes, that capacity is available to both our customers [via the app] and associates, too.
There are actually two parts. One is real-time inventory availability by store, so if you go into the mobile site or the app now and look at a product detail page, it’ll tell you how many are in stock and the fulfillment methods available. Customers and associates can also see the item’s whereabouts down to the aisle so the associates know the inventory on hand as well as product location.
We place a lot of importance around the quality of the execution, and we take a lot of pride in delivering a world-class mobile portfolio. I think that as customer expectations evolve [for increased efficiency], we’ll be in a very good position.
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