Last week, Do It Yourself chain Lowe’s reported weak sales growth in its second quarter of 2016, falling short of Wall Street earnings expectations.
But hidden in that earnings report was a conference call where Lowe’s upper management proudly announced significant increases in sales to professional contractors, and the success of its connected website lowesforpros.com.
“The strategic investments we’ve made to build deeper relationships with the pro are allowing us to capitalize on strong pro demand driven by a favorable macro backdrop. As our pro business continue to perform well above the company average,” Lowe’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Niblock told investors during a conference call on the earnings report. “Our LowesForPros.com website, re-launched in the second quarter of last year, continues to gain traction. And we will continue to build on this strong foundation by incorporating the feedback we’ve received from Pros and our ProServices team to constantly improve the customer experience and deepen our relationships with this important customer segment.”
In fact, Lowe’s reports that about 30% of the company’s total sales now comes from professional contractors, and Niblock says that strength comes from all categories of professionals. Estimates are that Lowe’s earned nearly $5.5 billion dollars from B2B sales in the second quarter, which is up from $5.2 billion in the second quarter of 2015. Lowe’s re-launched its LowesForPros website about a year ago, and has upgraded it to offer its professional customers the ability to develop requisition lists, access purchase history, and create custom catalogs.
In last week’s earnings conference call, Lowe’s listed “further improve our product and service offering for the Pro customer” as one of its three remaining priorities for 2016. That will include targeting larger contractors for its LowesForPros program.
“Building on the success, we continue to grow the program adding additional AEPs (Account Executive Pro Services) to continue capturing market opportunity with large pro customers,” Michael Jones, Chief Customer Officer said. “Our AEPs have been very effective in growing our business with larger pro customers. We currently have over 200 pro outside sales representatives in the field and continue to be very pleased with the program’s results.”
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