Lowe's Taps Into Tech to Promote New Manhattan Locations

From Vine Videos to In-Store Digital Services, Retailer Is Retooling Its Stores With Lots of Tech for Urban Markets

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Home-improvement retailer Lowe's is bringing its "Fix in Six" Vine campaign to life, creating animated window displays of household tips, at one of the retailer's first two Manhattan locations.

The "Fix in Six" push, created by BBDO NY, provides six-second tutorials on quick and easy home-improvement tips like microwaving a sponge to kill germs and using walnuts to mask scratches in wood. To build buzz for the new Lowe's location in the Chelsea district of Manhattan, the agency illustrated two new fixes that cater to city living: painting a room a light color to make it look bigger and hanging a bike from the ceiling to save space.

Lowe's Chelsea store, located on the corner of 6th Avenue and 19th Street, is less than five blocks from larger competitor Home Depot, which landed in Manhattan nearly a decade a go. The shop, which opens in September, will be the second Lowe's to come to the borough this summer.

The splashy installation will be up for the month of August and broadcast on Periscope Wednesday. It's one of a number of new ways Lowe's is using technology to revamp its store for an urban setting.

The big-box retailer has shrunk down its 145,000-square-foot stores to about 30,000 square feet, trimmed its on-site inventory, revamped its merchandising for city shoppers and beefed up its in-store digital services.

"This is [our] first store designed with omnichannel," said Jonathan Luster, VP-concept and market development, who led the creation of both Manhattan stores. The retailer entered into the Manhattan market now because it felt that it finally had the ability to do so. "You don't need the space when you've got these other capabilities. It makes the shopping experience so much simpler, so much easier."

Lowe's first new Manhattan location, opening in the Upper West Side in two weeks, has new digital displays that allow customers to easily browse Lowe's inventory and buy in-store. The new system, called "Endless Aisle," links up with Lowe's website. Another life-size screen allows customers to search a larger assortment of appliances, view their actual size and see what they look like inside using 3-D imaging. They can buy the appliances in store, or have the details emailed while they continue browsing.

"A lot of work went into figuring out what home improvement means for the Manhattan customer, for the Upper West Side customer, for the Chelsea customer," said Mr. Luster. "It was really important for us to be part of the community. We're not a flagship store here. We're absolutely a neighborhood home-improvement store."

The small store boasts 1 million square feet of inventory courtesy of the retailer's flexible fulfillment service platform, which it spent the last few years building. The system allows stores to see and transact on one another's inventory. All of the items shown in store are available for same-day delivery -- another first for the hardware chain -- and those ordered through the retailer's in-store digital tools can be shipped the next day.

Store associates are also equipped with checkout-ready iPhones, so customers can make purchases throughout the shop. Mobile checkout is also geared toward professionals, namely project managers and contractors, who are a key audience for Lowe's. The Upper West Side shop, located on the corner of 68th Street, which has heavy construction traffic, has a special entrance and section designed to get professionals in and out and back to the job site as quickly as possible.

It also makes use of New York's unique environment and the store's close proximity to the sidewalk. On the Upper West Side, passersby can enter through an open garage door on Broadway that's lined with flowers and potted plants. The store also feature window displays, unlike other Lowe's locations, that highlight products like cleaning supplies from The Honest Company, and give shoppers a glimpse of the store inside.

"It's been a great introduction to the community and our introduction to being at the sidewalk," said Mr. Luster. "Usually there's a parking lot in between us and the customer. Sometimes a parking lot and highway and a sidewalk. Here we're right in the community."