Large Retailers Redefining Ecommerce

When showrooming became popular a couple of decades back, brick-and-mortar retailers recognized they had to change, to compete with lower-priced online shops. Amazon became the goal of several brick-and-mortar businesses. But the truth is that ecommerce merchants of all sizes profited from customers who researched at a physical store, and subsequently made a purchase online because it was cheaper or more convenient.

Nowadays, global retailers are sleeping giants that have awoken and are aggressively pursuing innovative approaches to recapture lost market share and grow their customer base.

The buzzword for 2013 is”omnichannel” and the worldwide retailers are all buzzing about it. They are trying to make sure that the customer experience is constant at all possible touch points during a purchasing cycle.

Global retailers leading the charge include Macy’s, Target, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Nordstrom. Their activities are being copied by other brick-and-mortar retailers.

They’re capitalizing on the increased usage of smartphones by creating apps that pull people back into their stores. They realize that smartphones are used more frequently for product research than real purchases. They’re using that to their benefit.

They have also greatly enhanced their own online shops. Instead of being second-class taxpayers in the consumer experience section, they are now setting the bar higher than many online retailers.

In this guide, I will review some of the fundamental things that Lowe’s is doing to compete with Home Depot, and with pure-play online retailers such as Amazon.

Lowe’s

I picked Lowe’s since its ecommerce company is growing rapidly. At exactly the exact same time, it’s deploying smartphone apps to drive visitors to physical stores. Lowe’s is the ranked 47 out of the top 500 online retailers, according to Internet Retailer, with 2012 online sales estimated at 1.5 percent — approximately $757 million — of total earnings. That was a 51 percent increase over the past year. Lowe’s realized that by raising its conversion speed and about doubling online SKUs to over 600,000.

I like the customer experience in the Lowe’s online shop. Here are a couple of examples.

  • Sterile interface. The user interface is clean. The branding is simple, but practical. The major navigation uses wealthy pull-downs with conventional categories in addition to images that direct shoppers to featured product categories. Notice the focus on getting an account and linking with a local shop. This is the major focus of the top header.

Main navigational pull-down includes pictures and featured classes.

  • Prominent search. Lowe’s search is both fast and powerful with both type-ahead hints and real product hints that pop up. Faceted navigation enables a high degree of refinement on the outcomes and sorting order.
  • Product detail pages are content rich. Once more, see the focus on in-store accessibility together with free shipping and shipping choices. Product reviews include a wonderful feature that summarizes pros and cons so you don’t have to read each review to realize that important feedback.

Item detail pages.

Expanding beyond the simple website attributes, Lowe’s has invested in a loyalty program called My Lowe’s that includes promotional offers, a procedure for expedited returns, tracking purchases, a reminder program, online inventory of house products, and multiple shopping lists with easy mobile access.

Additionally, it provides a mobile app that enhances the shopping experience. In addition to having the ability to shop online and pick up in the shop, you could even make sure items are in stock or use the locator to locate a shop that has an item in stock. The app includes a neighborhood store map that will direct you to items in your cart.

On the social networking entrance, Lowe’s is spent heavily in Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, and Google+. It recently conducted a Pinterest promotional board in which it teased customers with Black Friday deals by revealing product silhouette images which were shown on November 4. Lowe’s engages consumers about what those might be on all their outlets. Because of this, this integrated campaign probably has consumers considering Lowe’s for purchases. Notice products that aren’t solely focused on home improvement, such as things like furniture, mixers, and wine coolers. Lowe’s gathered over 90,000 followers with this board.

“Black Friday Deal Reveal” Pinterest Board.

Lowe’s Facebook page has over 2.6 million Likes and 30,000 people talking about it.

On Twitter, there aren’t as many observable conversations as I anticipated. Lowe’s uses Twitter primarily to broadcast deals and post products for advertising. It uses the picture capabilities on Twitter efficiently to show products and other interesting graphics and images.

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Why Does This Matter?

For many customers, Lowe’s is a part of a purchasing cycle for home improvement goods. If you compete with Lowe’s on price or availability, it will harder to beat. If Lowe’s adds price fitting — such as Best Buy — and when Lowe’s has a product in stock in a physical shop when a buyer is buying, you might lose sales that you won previously.

Because it’s more convenient now to shop in Lowe’s physical stores with in-store maps and GPS guidance, more shoppers may choose to explore in physical stores instead of online. Since Lowe’s also has strong mobile apps and internet presence, smaller opponents will probably require a strong and well-designed ecommerce website, along with their physical locations.

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