The home improvement sector continues to shine, and while it’s not immune to the seemingly always-on Amazon threat chatter, the major home improvement retailers have embraced the challenge of integrating online tactics to drive their primarily brick & mortar businesses forward. Today, we’ll explore three ways that major home improvement retailers have created digital experiences that win customers’ business and drive both online and offline sales.
Before we dig into any specific executions, it must be said that both Lowe’s and Home Depot have done a great job of identifying their primary targets and distilling down each target’s needs. Both have two primary targets: the professional contractor and the amateur DIY consumer. The amateur requires a lot of information, hand-holding and encouragement. In contrast, the professional needs to be efficient, and is constantly looking at price, product specifics and available quantities. The digital executions below demonstrate a strong understanding of these needs.
1. Offering 24-hour customer service online
Home Depot knows that customer service is integral to the shopping experience across both targets. The nature of the business lends itself to lots of customer questions and a need for human interaction. Their focus on in-store customer service hasn’t wavered, but they have extended this to a 24-hour online chat system within their app. That way customers doing research from their home have access to the same great assistance they would expect in the store. The professional can clarify questions about product specs, while the amateur consumer can consult with a sales associate to make sure they’re buying the right replacement part for their broken toilet.
2. Helping consumers visualize home updates
One of the hardest things for the amateur consumer to overcome when embarking on a larger home improvement project is visualizing the change they want to make to their home. Both Lowe’s and Home Depot now offer several virtual tools to help you visualize these changes. You upload a photo of the room you’re updating and then try out everything from furniture placement to new paint colors. These tools give the amateur consumer the confidence they need to start new projects, often driving them in-store to make purchases.
3. Allowing consumers to buy online & pick up in store
While this is certainly nothing new for retail, the ability for a professional to go home one day, order something they need for the following day and pick it up on their way to work the next morning is huge. They are definitely taking advantage of this – 45% of Home Depot’s online orders are for pickup in store. Making purchases convenient, straightforward and efficient for professionals is key for retaining their business.