To meet the unprecedented consumer demand and supplier constraints during the pandemic, Joe McFarland, Executive Vice President of U.S. Stores at Lowe’s, quickly deployed several new initiatives across more than 1,700 stores during an 18-month span. These improvements enhanced the shopping experience for Lowe’s customers, while driving significant improvements in store productivity and contributing to an impressive 200 basis-point improvement in operating margin in 2020. Key components of his strategy included:
- Electronic shelf labels specifically designed for home improvement store departments, which helped reduce tasking hours in light of volatile pricing on lumber and appliances;
- A receiving app designed for associates who are working inventory, which helps measure product receiving and display speeds;
- An updated labor forecasting model designed to improve scheduling accuracy during and after the peak of the pandemic;
- New pickup lockers providing customers with a contactless and frictionless product order pickup solution;
- Homegrown self-checkout designed for the home improvement shopper; and
- A redesigned store layout to make stores easier and faster to navigate for Pro customers.
Joe’s focus on operational efficiency has helped unlock associate productivity, helping them shift their time to prioritize customer service. These innovations also are paying off in big ways with higher customer satisfaction scores, as the company acquires new customers who continue returning to shop with Lowe’s. A Marine veteran with more than 25 years of retail operations experience, Joe leads more than 300,000 associates to maintain both world-class customer service standards and associate morale. In response to the pandemic, Joe’s teams worked tirelessly to enhance safety in store operations to protect both associates and customers. He also advocated for more than $900 million in incremental COVID-related financial support for frontline hourly associates.