The hardware store of tomorrow

Lowes Brick-and-mortar retail shopping hasn’t changed much over the years; however, one company is using technology to transform the experience. It is a company that might surprise you – Lowe’s.

Lowe’s Innovation Labs is responsible for at least two breakthroughs that have the potential to change the hardware store experience. One is called the OSHbot. Big hardware stores like Lowe’s can be overwhelming – there is so much stuff it can be hard to know where to go to find a very specific kind of screw, for instance. The OSHbot is a robot that greets you in the store and directs you to where you can find a product.

The human in me asks two questions – do I really want my store experience to be stripped of human interaction like this? (I want to say no … but honestly, I probably wouldn’t mind). And second, why doesn’t Lowe’s just hire more employees rather than building robots (Lowe’s claims this will free its employees to perform more creative problem-solving for consumers, like how to use products instead of just where to find them).

The Oshbot isn’t perfect yet but you easily could imagine products like this in stores of all kinds within a decade or so.

Another innovation is the Lowe’s Holoroom which invites customers to visualize their home improvement project thanks to 3-D and augmented reality technologies. (IKEA has rolled out a similar app.) If you want to see the Holoroom in action, skip to the 2:35 mark in this video.