How Lowe’s retooled its logistics community to satisfy pandemic demand

Spring spurs householders to sort out recent initiatives with new instruments and supplies. For Lowe’s to meet this incoming demand amid international provide chain challenges, it needed to tackle a renovation challenge of its personal.

“Identical to some other firm on the market, we have needed to make the appropriate pivots to outlive on this setting,” Don Frieson, Lowe’s govt vice chairman of provide chain, stated in an interview with Provide Chain Dive.

A mixture of COVID-19-related impacts like extra distant work and conventional advantages like an ageing housing inventory have helped increase dwelling enchancment demand because the pandemic started. This has benefited Lowe’s gross sales, but it surely has additionally positioned elevated strain on the retailer’s provide chain in an period of choppier stock circulate, lowered product availability and pricier logistics.

To maintain Lowe’s provide chain buzzing throughout upstream snags and elevated e-commerce demand, the corporate expanded its logistics facility footprint and launched its transition to a extra environment friendly dwelling supply method, amongst different measures. Value of gross sales elevated from fiscal yr 2020 to 2021, however so did the corporate’s gross margin.

Donald Frieson, Lowe’s govt vice chairman of provide chain, joined the corporate in 2018.

Retrieved from Lowe’s on April 07, 2022


“I believe 2020 was quick paced, we had been simply making an attempt to do something we may to make it work,” stated Frieson, who joined Lowe’s in 2018 after serving as COO at Walmart-owned Sam’s Membership. “In 2021, we had been in a position to normalize that elevated exercise and help a brand new stage of gross sales.”

A ‘prudent’ answer for product availability

Lowe’s provide chain consists of a mixture of regional and flatbed distribution facilities to assist it transfer a bevy of imports to shops and prospects. However because the pandemic started, the corporate has additionally been including services with specialised capabilities past what these facilities can do.

By the numbers



The variety of Lowe’s U.S. regional distribution facilities, which transfer merchandise from distributors to shops or on to prospects, per its most up-to-date annual monetary report.



The variety of Lowe’s U.S. flatbed distribution facilities, which distribute merchandise that require particular dealing with reminiscent of lumber, siding and ladders.



The variety of shops every regional distribution heart and flatbed distribution heart serves on common.



The proportion of Lowe’s merchandise bought, in {dollars}, that shipped by means of its distribution community in fiscal yr 2021. The rest shipped instantly from distributors.

In fiscal yr 2021, the corporate added six cross-dock supply terminals to meet final mile deliveries and 4 bulk distribution facilities to deal with giant merchandise like home equipment. Lowe’s can also be utilizing what’s referred to as coastal holding services to hold imported merchandise upstream, permitting the retailer to safe the merchandise from distributors earlier and ship them to distribution facilities and shops when wanted.

“When it is available in that early, you need to have someplace to go along with it, as a result of to instantly push it downstream, that’ll push your shops out of season,” Frieson stated. “So [coastal holding facilities] proved to be actually, actually vital to us.”

For optimum circulate from a coastal holding facility, Lowe’s elements within the stock ranges essential to help its gross sales forecasts along with the typical lead instances from a facility to a regional distribution heart after which to a retailer, Frieson stated.

Lowe’s has 5 coastal holding services in its arsenal at this time, together with places in Rincon, Georgia, and Pittston, Pennsylvania, that opened in This fall, in line with a spokesperson. The corporate has two extra websites below improvement that can come on-line in late 2023. A coastal holding facility’s sq. footage ranges from round 420,000 sq. ft to 750,000 sq. ft, Frieson stated.

Lowe’s holds imports close to main port markets

Places of coastal holding services

For a enterprise the dimensions of Lowe’s — it is the fourth-largest importer in retail, per Frieson — the funding is price it. Chairman and CEO Marvin Ellison stated on a February earnings name that taking possession of shipments early and holding them at a facility will elevate stock ranges, however stated that it is “the prudent factor to do” to safe merchandise.

From retailer to market supply

Additional down the provision chain, Lowe’s can also be ushering in a brand new system to scale back the steps required to ship a product to a buyer.

“Our present legacy supply mannequin is tremendously inefficient with every retailer functioning as its personal distribution node for large and ponderous merchandise,” Ellison stated in a December convention name discussing Lowe’s 2022 outlook.

The shop supply mannequin has Lowe’s holding home equipment in its inventory rooms and in storage containers behind shops. The corporate makes use of store-based supply vehicles and associates to then ship these gadgets to prospects. Clients can solely buy gadgets accessible in-store for supply, in line with Ellison.

Supply hyperlink