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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lowe's Sales Decline: A Lesson in Marketing

The housing bubble has absolutely smacked the country.

When I was working as a freelance business writer in Austin, I interviewed several economists who said the housing market was difficult to predict because things like rising gas prices and the cost of Canadian timber, for instance, had a big effect on the price of homes (think trucking).

But the ancillary markets are a concern as well. Take Lowe's, one of the largest home outfitting stores. The company announced its sales would likely decline by about 7 percent in the coming year, not quite a disaster, but not certainly concerning.

And there's nothing they can do about that. People are buying fewer homes, so they're spending less time fixing them up. However, there are always levers a business can pull to help boost sales. One of those is a robust, online operation that gets people what they want, when they want it.

What's Good: The company has already set out to market its good specifically in localized areas, tapping into the individuality of each locale.

What's Bad: Many people these days price-shop first online before they head to a store. That means having a good, robust website is important. If people can't easily find -- and buy or reserve -- what they want, they will go somewhere else. Like Home Depot.

When I read Steve Woodruff's blog, which chronicled his attempt to purchase a gift certificate through Lowe's website, I can see why the company's sales declined 18 percent in the last quarter.

You can't make people spend money. We cling to the green with great veracity. But you can make it easier for them to spend money when they want to.

That's what the Web is all about.

By Brad at 05:10 PM | Comments (0)

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