What's In Store

Mystery solved: Lowe’s explains what’s inside of the big blue boxes in front of the South End store

A product pick-up locker at the Lowe’s store on Iverson Way in South End.
A product pick-up locker at the Lowe’s store on Iverson Way in South End. The Charlotte Observer

Customers at the Lowe’s Home Improvement store in South End might be wondering what the big blue metal boxes are in front of the store: They’re part of the home improvement retailer’s push into more online shopping.

The so-called product pick-up lockers have been in their current spot at the 217 Iverson Way store for a few months – but they’re just a test run and apparently are temporary. Customers who shop online can have their products placed in a locker that they can access 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said Karen Cobb, spokeswoman for Mooresville-based Lowe’s.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve customer service. Product lockers at the Central Charlotte store were installed as a way to get feedback from customers who shop online,” Cobb wrote in an email to the Observer.

Last week, Cobb said the retailer was in the process of removing the lockers. They were still in place Wednesday night, though, so it’s not clear how long they will remain.

As customers turn more and more to online shopping, Lowe’s has said it’s focusing on the “omni-channel” shopping experience. That means making it easy for customers to browse and buy from Lowe’s online, in a brick-and-mortar store or at home, since the retailer has product specialists who can consult with customers at their house on interior and exterior projects.

Lowe’s, the second biggest home improvement retailer in the U.S., operated 1,846 stores in North America as of July 31. The company expects to add 15 to 20 home improvement and hardware stores this year.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperaltafa