Lowe’s is the second-largest dedicated home improvement retailer in the United States, trailing closely behind Home Depot. With over 1,970 stores and 7,000 vendors, Lowe’s is a critical outlet for building materials manufacturers that want to reach an audience of general contractors, handymen and DIYers.
While getting your products into Lowe’s requires some legwork, developing a partnership with this mega-retailer comes with a long list of benefits, from getting a direct link to a loyal customer base to logistical advantages and the opportunity for promotions. If you’re looking to start the process, here’s what you need to know.
Decoding Lowe's Vendor Prerequisites
Like all major brands, Lowe’s has established a set of foundational values and beliefs that they strive to uphold and strengthen with each new business partnership. Some of the fundamentals Lowe’s is prioritizing today include diversity and inclusion efforts, giving back to local communities and delivering exceptional customer experiences.
Lowe's also places a strong emphasis on sustainability and green initiatives, and this is something you can look to align on. Lowe’s actively seeks products that are eco-friendly, energy-efficient or have a reduced environmental impact, so emphasize those aspects when pitching your product.
In addition to alignment, Lowe’s also has a set of vendor criteria that you must meet:
Product quality and affordability: Lowe’s wants to offer a trusted selection and a variety of products to their customers
Safety and compliance: This includes the materials in your product, along with its labeling, packaging and design
Reliability in your supply chain: You and your partners must be able to keep up with Lowe’s demand
Customer service: Your company must respond quickly to customer inquiries and complaints with strong warranty and return policies
Beyond these requirements, remember if you choose to use EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) being compliant is highly relevant and important to ensure seamless communication between your business and Lowe's network. Having a solid EDI system in place will streamline the exchange of orders, invoices and official documents — so look into this if you want to start getting into larger retailers.
Laying the Foundation: Product Preparation for Lowe's
Lowe's entertains a comprehensive selection of building materials, ranging from lumber and construction supplies to flooring and roofing materials. Ultimately, Lowe’s wants to offer a wide variety of products to its customers, which is why analyzing the company’s existing product lineup is important.
If Lowe’s doesn’t yet have similar products in store, that vacancy represents a good opportunity. However, if similar products are already in Lowe’s, you’ll need to focus on differentiating your offering.
Defining a distinct unique selling proposition (USP) is an art form, and differentiating your product might require you to modify its design, packaging or branding. It’s not an overnight process, but it’s a worthy investment given the potential impact a Lowe’s partnership can have on your business.
As your application moves forward, Lowe’s will likely request prototypes or product demos to better understand your product’s quality, functionality, and alignment with Lowe’s standards. Going the extra mile and impressing Lowe’s team with your packaging and presentation can help you secure a spot on the shelves for your product.
Constructing a Powerful Proposition for Lowe's
When you submit your product to Lowe’s, you need to be concise and impactful. Don’t simply type up a proposal and send it through. To ensure your product is seriously considered, spend some time crafting an explanation of your product’s features, benefits and unique properties, putting it all into the context of how your product aligns with Lowe’s ethos.
Market research: Research the market to understand who your target buyer is, how that audience is reached through Lowe’s and how your product fits within Lowe’s existing product offerings.
Product sample: This can be either a prototype or a selection of samples. Showcase different styles, sizes and variations. Prepare to offer a demonstration or written documentation to show installation instructions and other options. You won’t need to send this sample until Lowe’s requests it.
Product information sheet: Your PIS should offer detailed information about your product, pricing, availability, benefits and so on. Include relevant graphics and images to help them understand your product and how it works. Focus on the need you’ll be solving for Lowe’s customer base. Include data and authentic reviews if possible.
Submission Review: It’s a good idea to have many pairs of eyes check your submission materials and offer constructive feedback before you send over anything. Make sure you include all relevant information without being drawn out. Try to keep it as accurate and complete as possible while also focusing on being precise and succinct.
While you won’t be asked for a product sample until later on in the application process, preparing one now will help you think through the most important features and differentiators, and you can reference these specific samples in your product information sheet in case Lowe’s requests them.
Steering Through Lowe's Vendor Onboarding System
Lowe’s has an online vendor application where you can easily submit your product information sheet for review. This is a good option if you don’t have a dedicated sales team that can get in front of Lowe’s buyers in other ways (i.e., by attending trade shows). However, the online application isn’t always fruitful.
Sometimes, digital applications get lost in the shuffle, and you may need to re-submit your application if you don’t receive a response within a few months. If you do hear back, be mindful that there is a big stack of applications, and the review process isn’t always as efficient as it should be.
Once you get in touch with Lowe’s, go the extra mile to break past generic questions about your product and brand by focusing on unique benefits and offering to send samples. Answering any questions posed to you is important, but use them as an opportunity to bring attention to your product’s best features.
If your product is accepted, you’ll be invited into the dedicated vendor platform where you will need to fill out paperwork to finalize the deal. Lowe’s has conveniently pulled together a list of steps new vendors will need to follow, which includes:
EDI onboarding (if applicable)
Product data compliance information
Vendor insurance requirements
Item set-up information
Item setup process flow
Marketing data and image standards
Product content tool kit
Supply chain information
Enterprise quality assurance information
While you’ll need vendor credentials to access most of this information, you can view it as soon as your application progresses to the point where you’re ready to start taking action on this checklist.
Perfecting Product Presentation for Lowe's
Just as you want your manufacturing process, company standards and products to align with Lowe’s overarching values, you’ll want to continue aligning with Lowe’s goals as you move into other stages of the partnership. One of those goals is to make sure that the way you present your products matches Lowe’s standards.
In the store, Lowe’s expects accurate packaging. Online, Lowe’s wants you to support the site’s SEO objectives and adhere to the brand’s imagery guidelines. When you’re setting up your product listings, strive to optimize them for both online and in-store shoppers.
Here are some tips to follow:
Review the latest guidelines from Lowe’s for image resolution, contextual demonstrations and photography angles
Ensure you’re adhering to the highest standards when sharing product data, whether it’s sizing, components or otherwise
Focus on supporting the user shopping journey by writing detailed and digestible product descriptions
Cultivating a Robust Bond with Lowe's
Once you get into Lowe’s, you’ll need to keep working hard to stay there. Here are some aspects to think about as you strive to forge a strong and lasting partnership with Lowe’s.
Effective Communication Strategies with Your Lowe's Liaison
Once you have a contact or two at Lowe’s, it’s important to maintain open and transparent communication. Be proactive in discussing product updates, addressing concerns and making sure you’re aligning on goals. Clarify product information when needed and send feedback when you think something about the partnership could be improved.
By fostering a collaborative approach, you can keep in good graces with Lowe’s and make sure you’re the first to know of any complaints, concerns or recommendations on improving your product, service or marketing.
Participating Actively in Lowe's Events and Exhibitions
Lowe’s participates in and sometimes leads various events and exhibitions throughout the year, and becoming an active participant gives your business the opportunity to showcase its products directly to other industry players and end customers.
Ask your contact regularly about opportunities to get involved in Lowe’s events, including workshops, demonstrations and trade shows. Explain the value you can bring to these events and express your enthusiasm to help Lowe’s grow its customer base and solidify its position in the market.
Ongoing Commitment to Product Enhancement and Market Relevance
Lowe’s will continue to entertain other vendors long after you establish a relationship with them, and these vendors may eventually bring better or more advanced products that rival yours. This is why continuously evolving your product in response to customer feedback and changing marketing trends is key to keeping your spot at Lowe’s.
When improving your product, involve Lowe’s in the process. Let them know that you want to continue refinding your product to best serve their customers and make your improvement plans clear. Seek their input when you can to make sure your product keeps exceeding their expectations.
Joining Hands for Promotional and Marketing Campaigns
Promotional opportunities can be an extremely valuable perk of partnering with Lowe’s if your business takes the chance to leverage them. Joint promotions and marketing campaigns will help you increase your product’s reach, but it requires you to align with the values and messaging Lowe’s has in place.
Actively engage your Lowe’s contact to see what opportunities exist for co-branded campaigns, setting up cross-promotions or sending exclusive offers to Lowe’s customers. If you help brainstorm and workshop, you can create a win-win scenario for both sides.
Tackling Logistics and Supply Chain Dynamics
To meet demand, Lowe’s has its own logistics hubs and storage facilities where your products will live in the interim before being shipped to a customer’s home or to a Lowe’s store. Lowe’s has always had a mix of regional and flatbread distribution centers, but since the pandemic, it has begun adding facilities with specialized functions.
Since 2021, Lowe’s has added six cross-dock delivery terminals that can fulfill last-mile deliveries, helping them grow their ecommerce and same-day delivery presence. They also added four bulk distribution centers that can better handle large products, including appliances and certain building materials. Plus, they began using coastal holding facilities to help secure imports from vendors sooner, padding their supply chain.
When working with Lowe’s, you’ll want to sync up with their supply chain and various hubs, staying on top of how much product they need and when they need orders to be sent out. Along these same lines, make sure you’re adhering to Lowe’s packaging and shipping protocols for your type of products.
By working together with Lowe’s, you can help create a dependable supply chain that ensures your product is always in stock and available to the customers who want to buy.
Performance Oversight and Strategic Adjustments
Data that you can obtain from Lowe’s and other sources will help your business be an active partner and enable you to fine-tune your approach to marketing, product innovation and branding.
One of the easiest-to-obtain segments of data is customer reviews. Use customer feedback as a roadmap for improving your products. Also, dig into sales and stock metrics to see the who, when, where and how much of the sales you’re making through Lowe’s.
To make strategic adjustments to your products and packaging, you'll need to keep an eye on analytics and Lowe’s overall trajectory. Look at the growing product lineup and how Lowe’s is positioning itself to serve your specific customer base. Remember that your Lowe’s contact is there to help you be successful, so don’t hesitate to reach out to them with questions or feedback.
Ensuring Continuity in Lowe's Product Lineup
Lowe’s and other retailers conduct periodic product line reviews. During this process, they’ll review every product within a given category, and all active vendors will be asked to participate in the review — this determines if their products should stay on the shelves or if they should get a larger share.
For Lowe’s, the primary objective behind a line review is to ensure they are presenting customers with the widest variety of the highest quality products that fit their needs. This means they will be evaluating features, pricing and sales data. If they find they have too many of one type of product, they will be looking to narrow that out — and your USP will be a big help in keeping your product on the shelf.
During line reviews, be proactive about seeking opportunities to enhance your product. If you’ve maintained open communication with your Lowe’s liaison, they’ll already know that you strive to trailblaze innovations. The line review is your opportunity to showcase how you have continued to improve your product in alignment with their customers’ needs.
Post-line review, you will get detailed feedback on how your product can be improved for future reviews, and it’s important that you implement this and make it known when you do.
Line reviews may happen annually for seasonal products, but often only happen every two or three years, so don’t pass up the opportunity to use the review as a second chance to solidify the value of your product and pitch any relevant products you may have added to your catalog.
Getting your product on Lowe’s shelves isn’t an overnight process by any means, but by doing your research and looking for unique opportunities to address unanswered needs in Lowe’s catalog, you could very well secure your place in the aisle.
As you go forward with your product application, remember that there are many building material manufacturers out there, but there’s something special about your product. If you take the time to put your USP into the right words, ones that resonate with Lowe’s buyers, you can make sure your application gets to the top of the stack.
While you might not win a spot on the first try, your team can always pause, adapt and pitch again. Once you make that connection and get your product into Lowe’s, it will prove to be a major milestone for your company — one that you won’t soon let slip away.
If you need help with your marketing strategy as a building materials manufacturer, Venveo’s expert team can help. Reach out to us today to learn more.