For the top executive of a major home improvements chain with nearly 1,800 stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, Lowe’s Cos. Inc. CEO Robert Niblock spends a lot of time talking about e-commerce these days. And with good reason.
In 2011 online sales for Lowe’s, No. 47 in the 2012 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, grew year over year 70%, while comparable-store sales for the chain’s bricks-and-mortar locations were flat. Last year the web was the fastest-growing channel for Lowe’s, with online sales that reached an Internet Retailer-estimated $510 million from $300 million in 2010. In comparison, total sales increased about 2.9% to $50.20 billion from $48.81 billion in 2011
To grow its web business in 2011 and going forward, Lowe’s made several improvements to its e-commerce site, including rolling out MyLowes.com, a new interactive suite of tools that gives shoppers more customized ways to create and store room designs, check out available inventory across stores and the web, and create and store folders and lists to organize products, projects and ideas.
Lowe’s has big plans in mind for e-commerce, and it’s hardly alone among the largest chain retailers ranked . That’s because consumers increasingly see less need to hit shopping malls and physical stores as they shift more of their shopping online, use more Internet-enabled mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets to check prices and buy, and cull product information and opinions from social media channels such as Facebook.