Data integration lessons come from unexpected sources. I recently opened a charge card at Lowe’s home improvement centers: Great deal. My first statement provided purchase detail that I found helpful and a contractor would find absolutely compelling. Then I downloaded the statement into my Quicken financial software. #fail is the best word. Here’s the larger context:
My partner and I are doing a major remodeling project in a small town where a Lowe’s center is the only big box home improvement center in town. That forced us into the store even though our experience with Lowe’s in our home town of Tucson is not good. The staff at the new store turned out to be the most helpful, knowledgeable, and friendly retail team I’ve encountered in a long time. Chalk up a customer win for Lowe’s.
This story gains relevance to our work at Accurate Information when you follow the data path from Lowes purchase to accounting. We opened a Lowes charge card because they offer a 5% discount on any in-store purchase you put on it. That’s a big deal on this project.
The card is managed by GE Money Bank, and the integration between Lowe’s and GE is stunning. You can see on the statement exactly what each item was, and more importantly for a contractor their categorization is superb. It’s easy to separate plumbing fittings from electrical parts; tools from consumables; fixtures from cleaning supplies.
Then I downloaded the statement into Quicken, and all that great data just ended up in the bit bucket.
A typical memo field on the credit card statement might read:
PVC pipe fittings sch 40
while the Quicken memo field shows up as:
I did not check to see of the same loss of data occurs when using Quickbooks (which we use to manage Accurate Information), but there are a lot of contractors out there who run their businesses as sole proprietarships in Quicken.
Lowe’s, GE, and Intuit are missing an opportunity to make this customer base loyal to the point of giddiness.