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Lowe’s App a Do-It-Yourself Tool for Loyalty

myLowes-LKeyFobKeyspsilo_2-Bob-VilaCall it a tool of engagement. The MyLowe’s smartphone app is making relationship-building a DIY project.

And like many things DIY, this can be very advantageous. The app, by the home improvement chain Lowe’s, enables customers to look up their own purchase history and DIY projects based on data through the 7 million-member MyLowe’s program. Introduced as an online feature in 2011 and later expanded to mobile, it has been empowering consumers to check their shopping behaviors long before Acxiom made headlines by enabling consumers to review their data collected by marketers.

But it was while reading a recent Q&A in eMarketer with Sean Bartlett, Lowe’s director of mobile strategy and platform, that I realized the full scope of how the chain uses the app, and smartphones, in the store.

Lowe’s employees carry iPhones so they can check inventory availability by store. The app can pull up a product, show how many are in stock and the fulfillment methods available. Customers and workers also can locate the product down to the aisle, or recall the dimensions of a room that was painted a couple years ago.

As Bartlett put it in the interview: “It’s really powerful for the overall relationship if we can tie customer and associate.”

More important, the app gives consumers control to use their own data in a way that benefits them – and that is a valuable asset. A recent survey by LoyaltyOne shows that 72 percent of consumers would willingly provide more information if they had control over the data. In fact, if you ask consumers if they are comfortable with companies tracking their information, almost half say they are not.

Which leads to the old challenge of using potentially invasive technology to do something exceptionally good. Smartphones and mobile apps are changing the dynamics of consumer engagement and are ushering in brilliant innovations, as Lowe’s demonstrates. But even consumers who use GPS tracking expect to have some privacy at times. Consumers have pretty much gained control of the purchase experience; they will want control of the data-sharing relationship as well.

MyLowe’s is integrating the mobile channel in a way that benefits the consumer, and in doing so it is raising the bar for all merchants. As I look at my own portable marketing device and its untold capabilities, I wonder what other DIY tools are in the future.

But before embarking on the next venture – just like before expanding the kitchen – we should measure twice, cut once, and always ask: do you really want to screw it up?

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