Lowe’s to Home Depot: take 5. No, take 50!

Recently, a young couple we know and love were able to buy their first home. And, as all of you have “been there, done that” know, this involves beating a well-worn path to your neighborhood supply stores (especially, these days, Lowe’s or Home Depot) for the endless array of “stuff” you suddenly find out that you need as a homeowner.

So, as a housewarming gift, we thought it only appropriate to get a gift card. Since one of them had mentioned trips to Lowe’s, I figured that was the logical choice. And I was thrilled to see that you can just order the gift card on-line and have it sent for free – e-commerce is a beautiful thing.

Except at Lowe’s.

Four tries to simply order a $50 gift card. Four fails. Not only was the website slow and cumbersome, but when I’d try to complete the order, instead of just getting my info and completing the transaction, the site wanted my zip code so it could show me where the nearest stores were. It actively DID NOT ALLOW me to finish the purchase. A couple times, the site even froze.

That’s not e-commerce. It’s de-commerce!

So, with its brain-dead user interface, Lowe’s said to Home Depot: Take $50! And Home Depot was glad to oblige. No problem with their user experience.

When visiting the actual big box stores, my experience has been that Lowe’s seems cleaner and more nicely structured. But if you can’t replicate that on-line, then you’re going to lose customers to the competition. Would Lowe’s even think of putting a maze in front of the check-out counters in their store? Then why do that on-line? When people are ready to hand over their money, you’d better not put barriers in the way!

(UPDATE: here is documentation of the failure showing step-by-step screen flow [SlideShare file]. Oh, and Lowe’s?? I know this post seems quite negative, but I’m trying to help you here…my consulting time documenting your revenue loss is donated. You’re welcome!)

(UPDATE 2: This post did stir up some attention at Lowe’s. I actually got a call from someone well-placed in the Lowes.com environment, who spoke to me about the problem with real candor, and shared about  upcoming changes to the site. Does social media work? Yes it does!)

(image credit)

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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

4 Responses to Lowe’s to Home Depot: take 5. No, take 50!

  1. Pingback: After Hours 6_23 « Impactiviti blog

  2. Brad King says:

    I’m always amazed that companies don’t take the time to work with interactive web designers and run usability tests throughout the development process to qualify their decisions.

    I’m shocked that you actually tried four times; you are the rare user bound-and-determined.

  3. Greg Sapnar says:

    A quick look at the First Principles of Interactive Design on Asktog.com would have told them to include a “Just get me the Giftcard” button to allow the user to bypass the store locator.

    http://www.asktog.com/basics/firstPrinciples.html

    From section Explorable Interfaces

    “Don’t trap users into a single path through a service, but do offer them a line of least resistance. This lets the new user and the user who just wants to get the job done in the quickest way possible and “no-brainer” way through, while still enabling those who want to explore and play what-if a means to wander farther afield.”

  4. Pingback: A Return to Lowe’s - Strike 2, and a Home Run « StickyFigure

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