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Lowes Relaunches Website Aimed At Contractors

Now that Google Shopping for Suppliers has gone away the threat of online distributorship has eased slightly.

But, this might have gotten past you.  On May 21st, Lowe’s held its quarterly earnings conference call.

The “DIY” hardware chain is re-launching it’s LowesforPros website in the next couple of months.  Its target audience — contractors.

“This re-launch will provide a dedicated platform for pro customers to purchase online from Lowe’s, in addition to align pros to access contract pricing, develop requisition list and view purchase history,” Mike Jones, Chief Customer Officer told the call. “And Lowes For Pros will be enabled for convenient mobile access.”

Jones added that Lowes will focus on winning the business of professional contractors by offering service through online and mobile channels, and offering more products than in the past.

“While pros shop across the entire store, the penetration of sales to pro customers is highest within traditional building and maintenance categories including electrical and tools and hardware,” Jones added.  “For example the mix in customer shopping electrical wire is roughly 70% pro and 30% DIY. We are losing share in this core category, particularly with electricians, so within last year’s line review, we focused on why and what we needed to change. In the end, we added to our selection of wire types, gauges and colors as well as full rows of wire and cable to supplement the offering of wire sold by the foot along with contractor packed pricing so pros could benefit from buying bulk rolls.”

Lowes Chief Operating Officer Rick Damron says he will not only look to engage the local contractor, but also contractors who work across several states.

“We’ve looked at pros now approximately 30% of our total mix of business and we continue to work on that daily,” Damron said. “When you look at the pros they’re reacting very strongly to our structure that we implemented last year of the in-store specialist to really manage and handle the customers when they come inside the stores, our market account specialist which manages the larger accounts within the marketplace and then our national accounts program which manages those accounts that do business across many stores across the country, that process and that program is working extremely well.”

Lowes Chairman, President and CEO Robert Niblock reports the company’s dot com business was up more than 25% in the first quarter of 2014, and he expects it to be up even more with the re-launch of Lowes For Pros and the ability to deliver products to the job site.

“We still continue to see about 50% of what is bought online is actually picked up in store,” Niblock says. “If you think about it, about 70% of what we sell online is fulfilled through that store channels, and we’re happy to ship it to them.”

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