Lowe’s Earnings Struggles Not A Reflection On Pro Customer Performance

By Scott Costa, Publisher, tED magazine

If you ask executives what stood out as an issue for Lowe’s during its past earnings season, they would say “conversion”. The company says it is getting the traffic it wants, but it’s not getting the transactions from the traffic to meet expectations.

And while the company works on six planks for growth in 2018 (getting to know customers better, more personalized messaging to customers, investing in better fulfillment centers, stronger products, delivering complete home improvement project capability, and Pro Customer service enhancements), it will not have a long path to continued growth with the Pro Customer.

“I’m particularly proud of how we’ve grown sales with Pro customers,” CEO Robert Niblock announced during the conference call. “By focusing on breadth and depth of inventory, our portfolio of brands, localized assortments, and enhancing, our Pro growth rate outpacing DIY for both the fourth quarter and the full year.”

But, changes will be made, and they include enhanced delivery to job sites and a stronger product catalog. “We’re investing to improve the Pro experience,” Richard Maltsbarger, Chief Operating Officer, said during the conference call. “We are building on our strength in the MRO space by optimizing our Maintenance Supply Headquarters business, launching a streamlined product catalog this spring, followed by branch expansion beginning later this year. We’re also testing improved Pro job site delivery in select urban markets, with an expectation of rolling out the best concepts nationwide in the second half of the year.”

Lowe’s reported “above-average” comps in tools and hardware, rough plumbing and electrical, and lumber during the fourth quarter of 2017. Niblock added Lowe’s saw solid fourth quarter sales due to professional repair work from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in September.

Niblock added he wants to know more about his Pro Customers, and he expects changes in 2018. “In 2018, we will focus on leveraging analytics to know the customer better, changing how we engage, expanding our fulfillment options, delivering compelling product experiences, growing sales with the Pro customer, and differentiating with services,” Niblock announced.

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