Sadly we have been experiencing significant appliance shortages in our market (Central Florida) since early Q4 2019. Add to that we fall into what I have been told to be the largest cross-dock/XDT market that Lowe’s has. For those unfamiliar with what that entails the cliff notes explanation is as follows: The stores are basically stripped of practically all appliance inventory (excluding dishwashers and OTRs which are still stocked to support installs). Your appliance inventory now resides at an ADC/BDC (Appliance Distribution Center/Bulk Distribution Center). You continue to invoice via Genesis but when the sale is tendered it ports from Genesis into a Sterling order. The order then theoretically gets assigned to the cross-dock/XDT location (3434 in our case) which in turn pulls product directly from the ADC/BDC (3374 in our case). The 3rd party delivery service (XPO in our case) then picks up at the cross-dock/XDT facility and delivers to the customer.
On paper it sounds like a fairly simplistic and efficient system but in reality it is anything but. I could write a thesis paper on all the issues and we even had multiple high ranking persons come in from corporate to speak to us specialists to try to get a handle on the extent of the issues. Months have passed and minimal improvements have been made. By far the single greatest impediment to the system is that when inventory is either low or non-existent at the ADC/BDC the system really breaks down. Orders can get split and/or get routed to other stores that are well outside a normal delivery radius (I have on numerous occasions seen orders get routed to stores over 100 miles away). Larger orders often get split across multiple locations and often don’t even maintain the same delivery date. Needless to say it seldom ends well for the customer and canceled orders and/or irate customers are now common place. And the really absurd thing is as a sales associate you can’t even tell what the software is planning on doing until AFTER the sale is tendered.
As for the current inventory shortages; Yes much of it currently can be blamed on the vendors inability to get us inventory but Lowe’s also has to shoulder at least some of the blame as we started off in a huge inventory deficit even before the pandemic hit. Due to how our cross-dock/XDT market works we have been using the “ADC lookup tool” for months (to supplement Genesis 5.1) and it rapidly became readily apparent that Lowe’s was not issuing enough purchase orders to in many cases even cover our current negatives. It wasn’t at all uncommon for the ADC/BDC to be in the negative by two or three hundred on a particular item with only double digits or ZERO on order. We got no answers when we challenged corporate on these observations but the word “opportunities” was used multiple times in their replies. Found it very interesting that as soon as Q4 2019 ended and Q1 2020 started the floodgates on appliance POs opened but by then the global shutdowns were just starting and I surmise that our competition had already bought up most of the remaining vendor inventory during the tail end of Q4.
At our store we were told by management that we ended fiscal 2019 down by about 0.75 million in appliance sales with most of the damage coming in Q4. Not only did it cost us normal consumer sales, but we also lost some of our largest commercial appliance customers who simply didn’t have the luxury of waiting unspecified amounts of time to get their product (as they typically have fixed schedules to keep). Many of those customers have not returned. Sadly we are still getting our back-sides kicked due to inventory issues with much of what we are selling today not projected to be available till late August. After 7+ months of these shortages I hold out very little hope that 2020 will be salvageable with respect to appliance sales in our market. Hopefully other Lowe’s markets are not suffering as badly as ours.