The problem with big box hardware stores like Lowe's and The Home Depot is that (outside of their garden centers) they are still catering to tradesmen when half their customers are actually women. Tired and grumpy women.
Each time I shop at either one (and, no, I have no preference), I leave asking myself: why can't these hardware behemoths be more like Target, Walmart, or similar mega-stores, where shopping is fun ... or at least easier. How so, you ask? Read on! Here's my list of requests for Lowe's and Home Depot execs:
1. Bring in door greeters and maps so we customers don't waste time
walking (and walking and walking) up and down the aisles searching for that certain essential dood-ad or trying to locate the bathrooms. Would it be so hard to install mall-style store directory kiosks, stocked with printed store layout leaflets?
2. Speaking of bathrooms, move them close to the main entrance, I beg you.
Notice how the bathrooms are up front and clearly marked at Target and Walmart? Now there are some convenient conveniences!
Consider my last excursion to The Home Depot: Lugging a weary, potty-training toddler, I, and another female customer who was in a wheelchair
, roamed up and down for an eternity searching for the women's restroom. She found it first, waaay down the back ... and sort of off to one side ... oh, and down a corridor. Enough said.
3. Make it simpler for me to decide what to buy.
Especially tools. I need attractive product displays. I need signs. I need guidance. I look at 20 power sanders and I have no idea which one I need. Please. Take a cue from Target on this and check out their attractive, (fairly) orderly and brightly-lit vacuum cleaner display.
Heck, even pet owners have it easier. Have you noticed PetSmart arranges and labels doggie rawhides
in order of chewing difficulty? (Arthritic Dachshund? This end! Great Dane puppy? Other end!) Take note.
4. Bring on the coupon savings.
As I've mentioned, many of your customers are women. I dunno why, but we ladies have this weird predilection for coupons. Something about the thrill of getting a great deal, or at least feeling
like we did. It works for Macy's
, Costco and countless other stores. Why not give it a try, guys?
5. Replace the Paint Department with Decor Central.
It's still a man's world in the paint departments of Lowe's and The Home Depot. Burly men in aprons belting lids onto paint cans with man-sized mallets. Cripes, they are no use to me. Sure, they can mix. But can they offer advice about color selection? Sometimes ... if you luck out.
Solution: Re-position the paint mixing counters out back and replace them with home decor consultants. We don't seriously expect paint mixing guys to help us with our decorating questions. So why give them the best spot in the store?
6. Make your websites more informational, please.
You both have attractive websites. But they're still lacking detailed product info, including quality product photos. This matters big-time because I, like many other DIY'ers, typically do online research before, during and/or after a visit to the actual stores. But I've found both sites are sadly lacking in this area.
Ponder this: I can visit Eddie Bauer's site
and pull up a long description, three photos with zoom option and
360-degree views for a $15 t-shirt
! Yet searching for bathtubs worth $500 and up at The Home Depot
sites, I get just a few words, basic dimensions, and a smallish photo of each product. Frustrating? I'll say.
So there you have it.
Nitpicking? Maybe. Or perhaps I'm really on to something here. Get this: the economy is down and you both need to revive sales. Price cuts help, for sure. But if you want customers like me to fork over more cash, you should think hard about boosting the in-store experience, too. I'll be waiting!