I’ve heard from a few of you (thanks!), about Craftsman tools coming to Lowes stores, and it looks to be true. However, there is almost no information about this that I can find, and I’ve looked hard.
There’s a Lowes social media mention, and a blog post that says the following:
We’re welcoming a top brand to Lowe’s – look inside our tool box!
We are thrilled to welcome Craftsman to Lowe’s!
When it comes to tackling home improvement projects, the tools you use matter.
Starting in second half 2018, you will be able to find the Craftsman brand across a wide-range of product categories at Lowe’s.
Craftsman products will be available at Lowe’s stores in the United States and Canada and online. With the introduction of Craftsman, customers will have access to some of the highest quality, innovative and value-oriented products in the industry for their next home improvement project.
We are proud to be a partner-of-choice for the Craftsman brand and look forward to sharing additional information with you soon!
And… that’s it.
This brings up a lot of questions, but there’s nobody at Lowes to ask. I asked some unrelated questions in early October, someone I’ve worked in the past year or two there said they would look into it. A few weeks later, I followed up, and discovered they had left the company. The general PR email address hasn’t been responding at all.
I mention all this because I have a lot of questions about the new arrangement, and know you guys will have lots of questions. But there’s nobody at Lowes to ask. Hopefully calling them out like this will change that.
So here’s what we know so far: Craftsman tools will be coming to Lowes stores in later parts of 2018, and they will span different product categories. Presumably, this means that the tools will be sold online and in stores
“Highest quality, innovative, and value-oriented products” seems to be a catch-all that pretty much describes any and all tools, at least those that you’ll find at Lowes and other big box stores.
Here’s what we don’t know: How will the Craftsman tools be positioned among current Lowes brands? Kobalt vs. Craftsman? What about Porter Cable power tools? What about warranties? Will the same tools be sold elsewhere, or will there be Lowes exclusives?
What does partner-of-choice mean?
There are going to be plenty of hard decisions to make. Lowes cannot carry 2 full lines of tools, under both Craftsman and Kobalt brands. They simply don’t have the shelf space. If Craftsman tools are positioned a little higher than Kobalt tools, then there’s going to be too much overlap with some of the prices. If they’re positioned much higher, it might be damaging to Craftsman sales and growth.
There’s room for more variety in the power tool market. Look how many brands Home Depot juggles. They have Ryobi and Ridgid as house brands, Makita and Milwaukee as strong partnered brands, and a good rounding of Dewalt tools.
Lowes might be able to do something similar, with Kobalt, Porter Cable, Craftsman, and Hitachi power tools, and Dewalt as another major but not more exclusive or tighter-knit partner.
The Lowes blog post has some photos showing existing Sears Craftsman products. Are they indicative of some of the new Craftsman tools we’re bound to see? The photos show tool and garage storage products, a circular saw, wrenches, and screwdrivers. They’re good images, but I don’t think they’re any serious representation of what we’re bound to see.
How will warranties work? Will there be a similar guarantee where you can bring in a Craftsman tool and get a replacement, right at the customer service desk?
What will the rollout be like? Does the second half of 2018 mean we might see some tools emerge for Father’s Day, and then a bigger surge next Fall and holiday shopping season?
Will Stanley Black & Decker be making all the tools, or will there be other suppliers? In other words, will we only see Stanley Black & Decker Craftsman tools, or is Sears Craftsman somehow also involved in this?
Maybe someone at Lowes will have some answers for us. I’d also love to hear from Kobalt, about how this will affect the strength and variety of their offerings. There’s nothing wrong with Lowes offering both brands, but there can only be one top dog.
I have also been wondering about how this might affect what we will see from Irwin and Lenox brands, with both having strong relationships with Lowes even before being acquired by Stanley Black & Decker.