Lowe's has been providing consumers with top of the line home improvement products at affordable prices for more than 60 years.
Lowe’s is a Fortune 500 American company that sells home improvement, hardware and appliance items. Founded in 1946 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, it’s the second largest hardware chain both in the U.S. and around the world. It also happens to be the shopping haven for the do-it-yourself market.
Its stores are distinct for its retail lighting and a finished, commercial interior that’s both friendly and inviting for the regular Joes or novices. It’s the same for its online presence which is designed to favor lighter colors so it’s also attractive for the female consumers.
What You Didn’t Know About the Growth and Success Story of Lowe’s
Lowe’s is always on a mission of being a specialty retailer that attends to consumers’ ever-changing home improvement needs. The company excels in serving building contractor businesses, consumer durables and do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiasts. As of 2018, Lowe’s maintains its presence in the North American home improvement market through its 400 stores across 24 states.
Each Lowe’s store targets new construction contractors, repair contractors, remodeling contractors and retail customers. The stores combine the service, sales and merchandise of several home improvement centers to operate effectively. The centers include a building materials center, a HVAC, electrical and plumbing supply center and a hardware store. You’ll also find an appliance and electronics dealer, a lawn and garden center and a home fashions and interior design center in the stores.
Lowe’s Market Share
The home improvement market in the United States currently stands at $140 billion in terms of value. Lowe’s Companies Inc. holds 6 percent of this market. The 6 percent share makes Lowe’s to rank in the second place in the list of the largest home improvement retailers in the US. The company’s 400 stores mainly operate in small and medium-sized markets. Each store lies in a space of about 75,000 square feet. Lowe’s currently builds stores of 114,000 square feet in large markets and stores of 100,000 square feet in small markets.
The Company’s History
The company’s success story dates back in 1921 when L. S Lowe established a hardware store in a less popular town situated in North Wikesboro, NC. His son, James Lowe, succeeded him as the new manager of the hardware store after he died. James Lowe participated in the World War II as a US Army soldier together with his brother-in-law, Carl Buchan. He left the management of the store to his mother and sister.
Carl Buchan returned to North Wikesboro in 1943 after the US Army discharged him for sustaining an injury from the war. As he was recovering from his wounds, he decided to help manage Lowe’s hardware business. He gained a 50 percent stake in the business one year later. He also decided to sell out most of the inventory of the store and restructure it to a retail store dealing in wholesale hardware and building supplies.
James Lowe and Carl Buchan Opening More Stores
James Lowe returned home after his service at the US Army ended. He was on a mission to help Buchan run the hardware business. He collaborated with Buchan to open a second store, which generated many profits few months after its launch. The two bought a cattle farm and an automobile dealership using the profits reaped from the venture. Buchan decided to trade his shares in these two newly purchased ventures to Lowe’s shares in their two hardware ventures in 1952.
Carl Buchan established a third hardware store in Asheville, NC three months after trading his cattle farm and automobile dealership shares. The entire business operated under the name Lowe’s North Wikesboro Hardware, Inc. Buchan focused on expanding the operations of the business from 1952 to 1959. He managed to increase the company’s sales from $4.1 million to $27 million.
The Post-World War II Construction Boom
Lowe’s North Wikesboro Hardware, Inc. attributed most of its profitable sales to the post-World War II construction boom. During this time, consumer demands in construction materials increased tremendously as compared to the past years. The company used railway freights to supply the consumers with the products they ordered. Lowe’s also avoided paying wholesalers lots of cash by dealing directly with the manufacturers. Customers also got low prices due to this incentive as Buchan succeeded to open three more stores by 1955.
Buchan’s Death and the Company’s Tremendous Growth in the 1960s to 1970s
Carl Buchan passed away back in 1960. The company’s leadership team included a new president post as it aimed at becoming a leading force in the homebuilding market. After its successful IPO in 1961, the company’s name changed to Lowe’s Companies, Inc. All of its stores retained the same design and structure. Furthermore, majority of the stores’ customers were construction companies and contractors. By 1970, Lowe’s generated a sales revenue of over $100 million and operated over 50 stores.
Lowe’s Targeting Consumers in the Late 1970s
In the late 1970s, there was a slowdown in consumer demands in the home construction market. Lowe’s aimed at targeting consumers to cope up with the stagnation. The company’s management team agreed on increasing the company’s consumer sales with an objective of reducing the company’s chances of incurring losses. Despite these efforts, the company’s net income was down by 24 percent in 1980. Lowe’s management team discovered that do-it-yourself stores targeting consumers generated lots of sales revenue despite of the market stagnation.
Robert Strickland’s Fast Rise to Chairperson Position at the Board of Lowe’s
Robert Strickland joined Lowe’s few months after graduating from the Harvard Business School. Strickland is among the fastest rising individuals who got the chance to work at Lowe’s. He managed to rise from different junior positions to the chairperson position in 1978. During this time, Leonard Herring held the president position at the company. Herring pushed for a strategy that would help the company attract more consumers.
Lowe’s Taking Advantage of the Do-it-yourself Market
In the 1970s, most consumers of construction materials were enthusiastic about the do-it-yourself practice. The construction industry also experienced lots of changes due to the do-it-yourself practice. Most homeowners preferred taking on construction projects such as remodeling or buying a home to hiring a professional. Neighborhood hardware stores were transforming into home centers as homeowners’ preferences for seeking professional construction help changed. Lowe’s management noticed a fluctuation in their sales figures due to these changes.
The housing market fluctuations didn’t stop Lowe’s from generating more profits. The company’s management focused on how to remain profitable during the fluctuations and managed to generate over $900 million in sales revenue by 1979. Prior to this tremendous increase in sales revenue, Lowe’s sales revenue stood at $170 million. The company also operated over 200 stores by 1979.
Lowe’s Financing Program
The strategies that helped Lowe’s management team include adopting a new financing program targeting local builders, contractors and construction companies. The financing program enabled local builders to access coordinated Federal Housing Administration (FHA) building plans and loans. Thanks to the program, contractors managed to fill out government forms they need in their operations. Construction companies also got the chance to build more FHA-approved housing units.
Lowe’s RSVP (Retail Sales, Volume and Profit) Marketing Strategy
Lowe’s also attributed its massive sales revenue increase to the RSVP marketing strategy. The company hired a consultant to remodel its showrooms for them to look like a supermarket. As a result, customers accessed seasonal items like lawn mowers from the front side of the store. Traditional hardware materials were available from the back of the store. The stores also featured a traffic pattern for displaying interior design and decorating items to increase customers’ spending.
The first store to feature the RSVP remodeling plan was the one situated in Morganton, NC. The RSVP strategy also allowed Lowe’s to replace lettered signs, used to identify departments, with real photographs of the merchandise in the consumer’s home. The company also managed to boost its advertising efforts, extend its operation hours and update its product lines. Lowe’s sales revenue hit $1 billion by 1982 and rose to $1.43 billion a year later. The strategy helped Lowe’s sell to more consumers than contractors.
Warehouse-Style Stores in Late 1980s
The era of warehouse-style stores began in late 1980s in the United States. Lowe’s management team decided to use the style in its stores. The company managed to have 300 stores that were over 20,000 square feet under its wing by 1989. The stores included the 60,480 square foot store in North Chattanooga, 40,320 square foot store in Boone, NC and 60,000 square foot store in Knoxville, Tennessee.
After the store updates, Lowe’s products lines featured consumer goods such as stereo equipment, plumbing items, paint, tools, home decor and hardware. Lowe’s officially adopted the warehouse-style stores in 1991. The retailer allocated $71.3 million to carry out the restructuring process on its stores. The retailer managed to convert its chain of small stores to a chain of large stores. The allocated cash went to remodeling, relocation and closing expenses. About half of Lowe’s stores got an uplift using the money.
From 1991 to 1995, the newly-constructed or remodelled stores were 45,000 square feet to 115,000 square feet in space. Lowe’s reserved the largest store designs to stores it intended to build in large markets. Consequently, the small store designs were left to small markets. All large stores had big gardens and enough space for shoppers to move around. Lowe’s aimed at generating more revenue from consumers rather than contractors who shopped at its stores. The company didn’t stop attending to the contractors’ needs. Consumers got the chance to buy home electronics and major appliances, which were absent in other home improvement retail stores, from Lowe’s.
Lowe’s Expanding to Other States
Lowe’s concentrated on expanding to other parts of the United States from 1991 to 1993. For the first time, the company managed to penetrate the Illinois, Indiana and Maryland markets. The company considered this market penetration move as part of its restructuring processes. Lowe’s added five stores in these states thus increasing its store square footage from 8.02 million to 14.17 million. The average square footage rose up to 45,500 from 26,000.
Years 1994 and 1995 were crucial to the growth of Lowe’s. The retailer succeeded in increasing its number of nationwide stores to 365 after adding 54 new ones. The new stores were in markets such as Oklahoma, Michigan and Iowa. The company also made plans to penetrate to the Texas market. By 1996, the company owned and operated 23 stores in the state. Lowe’s made its debut to the New York market in 1996 by opening one store there. The company also established its presence in presence in Kansas by opening a store there as well.
Herring Retiring and Robert L. Tillman Succeeding Him as President and CEO
Leonard Herring’s term as president and CEO of Lowe’s ended in August 1995. Robert L. Tillman, who served as COO when Herring was in office, took over as the new president and CEO of Lowe’s. By 1996, owned and operated over 400 stores with over 75,000 square feet per unit. The sales revenue in the stores collectively tripled ever since Lowe’s began its restructuring process back in 1991. The sales revenue rose to $8.6 billion from $3.1 billion. Net earnings also hit the $296.2 million mark in 1996.
Future Expansion Plans
Today, more than 70 percent of Lowe’s stores use the warehouse-style. By 2000, Lowe’s succeeded in adding 40 more stores to its existing 400 stores. The company looks forward to own and operate a total of 600 stores in the coming years. In late 1990s, the company made plans to allocate 80 percent of its capital expenditures on opening new stores. The retailer planned to open these stores in large metropolitan areas such as Atlanta.
Lowe’s currently ranks in the second place in the list of top home improvement retailers in the United States. The company is on a mission to reclaim the top position by continuing to build and operate more stores across North America. Lowe’s also aims at improving the customer experience to retain existing customers and attract new ones in the coming years.
1. Earn Rebates or Discounts for Purchasing Product Clusters
Just like how retailers get good deals from manufacturers for bulk purchases, Lowe’s also offers customers the same deals. You can actually get a rebate or discount for any bulk purchases you make at Lowe’s. For instance, if you are thinking about upgrading your kitchen, you can get various products from Lowe’s. The products include a built-in microwave, a stove, a dishwasher and a refrigerator. Lowe’s will give you a great deal when you purchase all of these items together.
Besides benefiting from discounts on bulk purchases, customers can also get $400 to $1,200 rebates from Lowe’s. The rebates apply to GE profile appliances and other appliances by GE. To apply for the rebate, simply visit the ‘current rebates’ page on lowes.com.
2. Different Deals Every Day
Deal experts advise consumers of home improvements products to visit Lowe’s website every day for amazing daily deals. You can also see the deals that Lowe’s offers daily by following the company on Twitter. The company’s Twitter handle is @lowes. On a lucky day, you can get up to 50 percent off on a selected product.
The daily deals help consumers get home improvement products they desire. The deals also give them a wide range of products to choose from. All you need is to choose a product of your liking and proceed to checkout to enjoy the discount that it has. At times, Lowe’s also offers daily deals that apply to the shipping of purchased products. Customers get to enjoy the free shipping deals at their convenience.
3. Contractor Discounts
Pro or contractor discounts usually target home improvement contractors. You can also shop like a contractor and benefit from these exciting deals. If you are a DIY (do it yourself) enthusiast, be sure to shop at Lowe’s for the products you need in bulk. You will get to save up to 16 percent or more on your bulk purchase. Contractor-pack items that attract good deals at Lowe’s include light bulbs, painting supplies and furnace filters. Note that this list is endless. Shopping like a pro or a contractor is a brilliant way to save money.
4. Bargain for Lower Prices
The good thing about shopping at a Lowe’s store is that you can bargain for lower prices on certain items. The store workers are always willing to listen to your pleas or negotiations regarding a product of your choice. The staff will only accept to lower the price on slightly damaged products, damaged boxes or open boxes.
You can use this amazing opportunity to pay less for a costly product. If the item you are buying has scratches or dents, the store attendants will definitely help you score a better deal. All you need to do is to reach out to the store manager or any employee for further assistance.
5. Amazing Deals on Household Cleaning Supplies
Household cleaning supplies bought at Lowe’s stores are much cheaper when compared to those bought from other retailers. You can even compare the product prices of different stores and discover that household cleaning products sold at Lowe’s are slightly cheap. As a homeowner or tenant, you need these supplies to maintain the hygiene of your house. Lowe’s understands that household cleaning supplies help improve the quality of a house. The company lets customers get different deals every time they visit the stores to purchase the supplies.
6. Military Discounts
Lowe’s appreciates the work that military men and women are doing for the country. The company has special discounts for these individuals and their families. Military discounts at Lowe’s stores apply to retired veterans with over 20 years in military service, current service members and their immediate families. The discounts also target individuals who receive the Veterans Administration benefits.
If you qualify for the military discounts, you can get up to 10 percent off on the purchases you make at Lowe’s stores. Lowe’s also offers retired veterans with less than 20 years in military service special deals. The individuals benefit from these special deals during Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
7. Seasonal Pricing
You can take advantage of the seasonal pricing of Lowe’s to score better deals on home improvement products. The seasonal pricing takes place between May and August at all Lowe’s stores across the country. The retailer realized that most consumers develop interest for shopping for home remodeling and renovation products during this season. The increase in the shopping interests at that time gives Lowe’s the opportunity to set better offers for the consumers.
8. Special ‘Side Walk’ Sales
‘Side walk’ sales at Lowe’s enable shoppers to make big savings for every product purchases. Lowe’s uses this brilliant promotional tool to increase the spending of the shoppers and attract more shoppers. The sales take place different times of the year. You can benefit from them if you purchase a product from Lowe’s on the first or last Saturdays of every month.
The sales enable shoppers like you to find amazing deals on closeout items and returns. Always remember that the ‘side walk’ sales have certain terms and conditions that apply to them. Do not hesitate to speak to a Lowe’s employees or store manager when you need clarity on the terms and conditions.
9. Lowe’s Discount Coupons at the U.S Post Office
Lowe’s collaborated with some post offices across the country to offer the customers discount coupons of up to 10 percent off. You will get such discounts from selected post offices offering mover’s guides or change-of-address guides. The initiative allows consumers who are planning to relocate to a new location to benefit from special deals on home improvement items.
The basic requirement for you to access these discount coupons is picking up either a mover’s guide or change-of- address guide from a U.S post office. The coupons vary depending on the packet even if you are getting them from the same post office. If you are lucky enough, you make grab a coupon with a 25 percent off home items bought at Lowe’s.
10. Coupons for Email Subscribers
Lowe’s uses its email newsletters as a tool for marketing new products and informing loyal customers about different offers. The company frequently sends coupons to the subscribers’ emails. You can redeem these coupons at your local Lowe’s store and pay less for a selected product. Note that the coupons tend to expire if you do not use them within the given timeframe.
Becoming an email subscriber for Lowe’s newsletters is simple. Visit the Lowe’s website and enter your active email address on a form provided for email newsletter subscribers. You will immediately receive an email from Lowe’s asking you to confirm the email address that you provided. After making the confirmation, you get to join the millions of Lowe’s email subscribers.
11. Price Match
Lowe’s is always on a mission to improve the experience of customers shopping at its nationwide stores. Always remember that product prices at Lowe’s are the same with those at competing retailers. Lowe’s has a policy in place for matching the prices with an objective of enhancing fair competition.
The price match at Lowe is when compared to other retailers gives customers the assurance they need regarding their shopping habits. Lowe’s understands that customers are more likely to shop at the same store if the product prices do not exceed those at other stores. The strategy aims at customer retention and satisfaction.
12. Outstanding Christmas Deals
During festive seasons such as Christmas, consumers get outstanding deals from Lowe’s stores. According to the company’s website, Lowe’s sells thousands of string lights annually. The retailer also sells pre-lit Christmas trees enough to stretch from its North Carolina head office to Toronto Canada. You can score Christmas deals at Lowe’s for purchases on items such as the string lights and Christmas trees.
13. Lowe’s Credit Card
Credit cards always come handy when consumers want to make big savings. A Lowe’s Credit Card also gives you the convenience you need when planning for your finances and shopping habits. Lowe’s lets you use the card to pay for product purchases if you do not prefer using or do not have cash at hand.
With the Lowe’s Credit Card, you will get up to 5 percent off on certain items and a zero percent interest valid for six months. The card also allows you to benefit from incentives such as zero annual fees and huge savings on home renovation products. You will only take few minutes to apply and get approval to use the card.
14. Environmental Record
Lowe’s has a steadfast commitment towards protecting the environment. The company was the recipient of eight consecutive Energy Star awards during the 2003 to 2010 award period. The awards included the Energy Star Partner of the Year Award for its efforts to create energy efficiency awareness. Lowe’s also bagged the Energy Star Sustained Excellence in Retail Award back in 2010. The award usually celebrates companies that contribute to the reduction of greenhouse emissions
15. Advertising and Sponsorships
Designer Marianne Cuasto collaborated with Lowe’s back in 2006 to come up with affordable housing plans for victims affected by the hurricane that hit the Gulf region. Lowe’s also prides itself as the official seller of building materials and plans for its Katrina Cottage. The company also maintains its presence in the advertising world through its radio and TV commercials. Most of the commercials focus on racing sports.
16. Stores in Canada
On December 10, 2007, Lowe’s penetrated the Canadian home improvement market by opening its first three stores in Brantford, Brampton and Hamilton, Canada. The company also opened three more stores in East Gwillimbury, Brampton (the second one) and Toronto on February 1, 2008. As of 2018, Lowe’s operates 62 stores in Canada. The stores have an average investment of $20.4 million each.
17. Clearance Sales
Lowe’s has a number of clearance sales running throughout the year. The retailer uses the clearance sales to maintain its profit levels and balance its prices and inventory. The promotional strategy also aims at targeting price-conscious consumers and acting as an effective inventory management tool. You can buy a home improvement product for almost half its original price at Lowe’s when the clearance sales are applicable.
18. E-gift Cards
Lowe’s makes it easier for customers to send home improvement products sold at its stores as gifts. The retailer has special categories for gifts that customers can buy. The categories include wedding gifts and birthday gifts. You can sign up for a gift card that you will use to get discounted prices on certain items.
Lowe’s also offers e-gift cards, which are an electronic form of the ordinary gift cards. Customers can access the cards via email and use them to shop online or at the physical stores of Lowe’s. You need to present a screenshot of the card to the cashier when checking out.
19. MyLowes Account
The MyLowes account is available on Lowe’s online shopping portal. Using the account, customers can track their product purchases. Customers can also save inspirational content and products to certain lists. The account gives them the freedom to view in-store purchases online and request a MyLowes card. To create the account, simply visit lowes.com and click on the MyLowes icon on top of the homepage. Remember to provide your valid information on the portal for a successful registration.
20. Lowe’s Protection Plan
Lowe’s has an insurance policy, known as the Lowe’s Protection Plan, to cover the interest of its customers when unexpected things happen. The protection plan does not have any third-party affiliations. Lowe’s assures you of zero deductibles when you sign up for the protection plan. You will get an extended warranty and additional benefits through the insurance policy in case the purchased product had issues or developed complications. Lowe’s also offers Replacement Plans only for product that cost less than $300. The company does not offer replacement services to water heaters and major appliances.
Home Stratosphere is an award-winning home and garden online publication that’s a result of our talented researchers and writers who work directly with hundreds of professional interior designers, furniture designers, landscape designers and architects from around the world to create helpful, informative, entertaining and inspiring articles and design galleries.