Interview with Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison

July 6, 2020

Digital Transformation by Pandemic


Yesterday morning I joined a webcast hosted by the National Retail Federation featuring Lowe’s Home Improvement CEO Marvin Ellison. Topics included the reformation of his team, the COVID-19 virus, racial discrimination and the transformation of the Lowe’s digital marketplace. Interestingly, all four of these topics are connected. It is the implications that each of these topics has on digital transformation that I will share with you.

Mr. Ellison shared that Lowe’s e-commerce platform was ten years old when he joined the company. “Imagine working with a ten-year-old computer”, he asked. “You would have a tough time making it work.” On top of the outdated platform, the company’s logistics model did not adequately support pulling stock for e-commerce fulfillment. It was time for a change.

According to Mr. Ellison there are three things required to properly execute change – time, capital and talent. He began the transformation by hiring Seemantini Godbole as chief information officer. Ms. Godbole was previously a leader in the e-commerce transformation for Target Corporation. She was given the necessary financial resources and put together a team Mr. Ellison states is among the best ecommerce teams in the country.

The Lowe’s team recognized a changing retail landscape that included e-commerce within the omnichannel business model, and they put together a timeline for incremental development and introduction over the next three years. Then came the pandemic and everything changed. The Lowe’s team in partnership with Google Cloud fast tracked the creation of a new e-commerce platform that will go live this month (July 2020). They have created and launched 100 different apps in just seven days. As a comparison, Mr. Ellison shared in the previous 365 days, they launched just forty apps.

Change was also required for the logistics of fulfillment. Curbside pickup was accelerated by twelve months to meet the demands of the pandemic. The installation of pickup lockers has been introduced ahead of the original schedule. Additional services slated for 2021 and 2022 are now being pulled forward to meet the demands of the market.

As I watched and listened to Mr. Ellison speak, I was impressed at his recognition for the need for change to meet the expectations of customers and his commitment to the action required to get it done. As he stated during the webcast, “What you do is more important than what you say.”

I would be remiss if I did not recognize what Mr. Ellison shared about the many changes he has implemented in his leadership team and the immediate test they faced with the pandemic. Mr. Ellison also shares his personal story and the efforts of Lowe’s to act upon providing opportunities for race and gender equality. I commend Mr. Ellison for being open and sharing during this interview. Thank you the NRF for hosting the webcast.

I encourage you watch this webcast as Mr. Ellison offers so much more insight into Lowe’s and his approach to business. Here is the like to the webcast –


Draper DNA is a full service marketing agency and consultancy specializing in helping home and building products companies challenge the industry. Check out Draper DNA’s 2020 Predictions that include digital transformation.

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