Lowe's vs. The Home Depot: Who Does it Better?
Lowe’s is trying to give The Home Depot some serious competition through a new video chat tool they’ve launched. Should the mighty Home Depot be worried? Well, it depends on who you ask.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the game of construction, home improvement, and even DIY. People who have never tried do-it-yourself projects are rolling up their sleeves and getting to work. Home improvement contractors are, or should be, stepping up their game to engage customers and remain competitive. The virtual landscape is moving along at lightning speed and adjustments are being made all around.
Lowe’s, a popular home improvement retailer, has traditionally relied more on do-it-yourself customers and they’re trying to change all that, including an overhaul of its website and e-commerce business. As the pandemic took hold early last year, many customers were reluctant to allow contractors into their homes, and contractors were uneasy as well. Even now, with the pandemic still looming, social distancing is still an issue. It seems Lowe’s has come to the rescue with their new “Lowe’s for Pros JobSIGHT,” an Augmented Video Chat Service.
The new feature is part of its $25 million commitment to support small businesses, and its purpose is to connect contractors to customers virtually. According to their article, 20% to 25% of its sales comes from pros - less than The Home Depot’s 45%. That’s a pretty big difference, so Lowe’s has its work cut out for them.
The Lowe’s video chat service allows home improvement professionals to send customers text messages with a link to the video chat. According to the article, “Once the browser opens, the customer is connected via video to the contractor, which enables them to show the problem by video, such as a leaky toilet or broken water heater. The video tool can also capture a serial number and identify the parts to order.” Go ahead, admit it. Those features are pretty sweet.
Additionally, the tool allows the professional to “use an on-screen laser pointer or a drawing tool to guide customers or help them make a repair.” Once the session is done, pros can generate a summary of the visit, complete with photos and video, follow up with an in-person visit, or order appropriate parts as needed. What do you think? Sounds pretty darn amazing to me.
As mind-blowing as all this may seem, I think there may be a bit of an issue here. It’s possible that the Lowe’s video chat feature may be too little too late, and get lost in all the other new technology allowing people to connect via video rather than face-to-face. There are video chat features on your smartphone, as well as software like Zoom, and other video conferencing options. Sure, the Lowe’s video chat offers a few more benefits that may be useful to contractors, but is it enough to draw them in and keep them coming to Lowe’s rather than The Home Depot?
Personally, I prefer The Home Depot, primarily because it’s close to where I live, but I recently took a trip to Lowe’s because my sister needed to go there. I don’t know why, but when I walked into that store, I immediately felt a sense of calm and tranquility. The atmosphere was totally different than that of The Home Depot, which usually has more hustle and bustle.
I decided to dig a little deeper into the Lowe’s vs. Home Depot showdown. Could a takeover really happen? I asked a few construction pros how they felt about the two retail giants. I received lots of responses, but found the following feedback rather thought-provoking:
Lowe’s is geared toward women. The Home Depot towards men.
Husband and wife stores. The husband got Home Depot and the wife got Lowe’s.
Product selection and the way the store is set up are designed to help women spend money there.
I also learned that while Lowe’s is perceived to be a store geared towards women, many male contractors shop there as well. I also found that some contractors view Lowe’s as a store better suited for “do it yourself customers,” while The Home Depot is for “serious contracting pros.” That may be true, but did you know that The Home Depot now carries a rather extensive line of Martha Stewart Living products? Who do you think they were targeting when they made that decision?
“Most of the home-improvement decisions in a household are made by women.”
I came across an article in The Washington Post, “Boy Depot vs. J. Lowe’s?” It said that “Lowe’s discovered that most of the home-improvement decisions in a household are made by women, so the chain decided to turn itself into something that female shoppers would particularly like.” It further went on to say that they wanted neat displays, bright lighting, and clear signs that made it possible for women to find things on their own. Manufacturers and retailers need to embrace these changes and make some adjustments to their own products and services.
I’m currently working on a repair project in my basement that involves the use of mortar. I went to my neighborhood Home Depot and nearly wrenched my back trying to pick up a 50 lb. bag of Quikrete Mortar Mix. The next size up was a 60 lb. bag. From there it went up to 80! I stood in the aisle, frustrated, and silently cursing the manufacturer for creating such heavy bags.
I complained to one of the employees, telling him that there were plenty of females in the construction industry now, and many women who enjoy DIY projects, myself included. “Why wouldn’t these companies provide more variety in mortar bag sizes and weight?” I asked. The employee shrugged his shoulders and said, “That’s just the way it is.” What! I couldn’t believe it. Needless to say, I left the store empty-handed. I went home and got online. What do you know? Guess who had 10 lb. bags of mortar mix? Lowe’s! Guess who got my money? Lowe’s! I had to repair a pretty large area of my basement walls and purchased fifteen (15) bags of 10 lb. mortar mix. Multiple trips from my car trunk to the basement, yes. Worth it to me? Absolutely.
Lowe’s, you’re on to something. Whether your JobSIGHT,” Augmented Video Chat Service converts pro contractors or not, just know that what you are doing to support female shoppers is duly noted and appreciated. As for this woman, I won’t put down The Home Depot completely (hey, it’s only 10 minutes away), but I’ll definitely do more shopping at Lowe’s.