March 19, 2013, 3:26 PM

Lowe’s boosts online sales more than 50% in 2012

The home improvement chain brought in $757.5 million in online sales, Internet Retailer estimates.

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It was a strong year for Lowe’s Co. Inc.’s online channel, as the merchant boosted e-commerce sales more than 50% in 2012, CEO Robert Niblock told analysts at the UBS Global Conference last week.

Lowe’s, No. 47 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, did not say exactly what its online sales were in its most recent earnings release. But Internet Retailer estimates the web accounted for around 1.5% of the home improvement retailer’s total sales in 2012, or $757.5 million. That would represent a 51.5% increase from $500.0 million in 2011, which was also an Internet Retailer estimate. Much of that growth was driven by an increased availability of products online, as well as an increase in conversion, he said.

“Conversion rate was up, and we also dramatically expanded the number of items that we have out there Niblock said. “We’re over 600,000 now, I think. So tremendous opportunity there.” Last year, Lowe’s had 250,000 SKUs available online, according to data in the Top 500 Guide.

Lowe’s says it is getting ready to upgrade its e-commerce technology and improve its site search, though it did not elaborate on whether it was planning to change its e-commerce platform provider. The retailer currently uses the IBM Websphere platform.

The retailer also says it is pleased with MyLowe’s, a loyalty program it launched in mid-2011. MyLowe’s allows online shoppers to set up a profile that keeps track of shopping lists, organizes owner’s manuals and warranties, and consolidates inspirational pictures for upcoming projects. Each profile is linked to a MyLowe’s card that can be requested online or picked up in any store, so all online and in-store orders are tracked when store shoppers swipe the card at checkout or web customers enter their username and password. Nearly seven million customers have registered for the program, Lowe’s says.

“We're seeing great receptivity from the consumer,” Niblock told analysts. “Right now, we're willing to continue to grow awareness and bring more unique customers in to get registered so they fully understand the benefits associated with it. And then down the road, we've got additional features that we want to add.”

In its most recent earnings release, for the fiscal year ended Feb. 1, 2013, Lowe’s reported:

  • Total sales of $50.5 billion, a 0.6% increase compared with $50.2 billion in 2011.
  • Comparable-store sales increased 1.4% worldwide and 1.5% in the U.S.

For the fourth quarter, the merchant also posted:

  • Total sales of $11.0 billion, a 5.2% decrease compared with $11.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.
  • Comparable-store sales increased 1.9% worldwide and in the U.S.
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