Dear Lowe’s and Home Depot: Desperately Seeking (Home) Improvement

From the desk of Alice Morgan

My Two Cents

I have researched products sold in your stores for many years.  I have interviewed thousands of builders, handymen, painters, plumbers, and DIY-ers.  Categories include faucets, bath hardware, bath safety equipment, tubs, showers, caulk, power fastening tools, cabinets, and valves.  I am also a homeowner/light DIY-er who has purchased various products at your stores.  Perhaps I am being cocky, but I think I’ve learned a thing or two.  So that all having been said, here are my two cents about the customer experience in your stores.

Gender Gap

Any retail experience is all about the service.  Generally speaking I have encountered more responsive, helpful salespeople at Lowe’s than at Home Depot.  Perhaps this is because I am, to put it baldly, a girl.  I have found in my interviews that men tend to prefer The Home Depot and women often gravitate towards Lowe’s.  You might want to think about fixing this gender imbalance.  Generally speaking it is not a good idea to alienate 50% of your customers.  A friend of mine recently posted this on social media (I repeat with her permission):  “When you are here [Home Depot] all the men start to look the same. T-shirt, shorts and baseball hat.  I think I have called 3 strangers “Honey” so far.  I want to go home.”

Pros Don’t Get No Respect

Revenue from trade professionals accounts for 25% at Lowe’s and 35% at Home Depot (Lowe’s, please see Gender Gap point above).  Having said that, Pros may buy from you, but they don’t feel good about doing it.   They feel like they are cheating on their wives.  They feel disloyal to the tool houses, supply houses, and wholesalers that populate their industries.  I’d say if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  Borrow some of your competitors’ old school tactics.  Think donuts.  Coffee mugs.  Pens.  Perks.

The Quality Problem

There is a perception – which I have heard over and over again, through the years from both DIY-ers and Professionals – that branded products (faucets, tools, it really doesn’t matter what) which are sold at home centers are of inferior quality to the identical branded products sold through wholesale channels.  A marketing campaign aimed at debunking this misperception would be money well spent.

Signing Off

I believe that significant opportunity remains if you are able to successfully solve the three challenges mentioned above.  Sincerely yours, Alice Morgan