A key goal for Lowe's, of course, is to stay competitive with its larger rival, Home Depot, which outpaced Lowe's over the last 11 quarters in same-store sales (a measurement of sales in stores open a year or more). To some extent, Lowe's is playing catch-up: in 2010, Home Depot reportedly spent $60 million to outfit 10,000 store employees with handheld Motorola devices similar to the gadgets issued by Lowe's, with the added advantage that they process credit card transactions.
Home Depot was first to launch a website featuring many of the applications now available at MyLowes.com. It also draws praise for a social media strategy that makes it easy for do-it-yourselfers to swap advice, and, according to news reports, plans to open a one-million square foot e-commerce distribution center in Georgia.
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Lowe's is now locked in a game of one-upmanship with its rival, according to some retail industry watchers. "I think they're trying to leapfrog with the new technology and go beyond [what Home Depot offers]", says Joe Feldman, a senior retail analyst with the Telsey Advisory Group. Emphasizing that Lowe's is trying to reshape itself as an innovative company, he notes that Lowe's exhibited for the first time at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to promote the debut of MyLowes.com.
Recognizing how swiftly consumer demands change, Lowe's is not standing still. A spokeswoman confirmed that the retailer is contemplating the adoption of yet another wireless innovation for its outlets: technology that enables customers to make purchases with the wave of a smartphone.