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Hardware? There’s an app for that

Thanks to the record-shattering warm temperatures throughout the month of March, homeowners are likely trying to get a jump on their home and lawn maintenance. Home Hardware is helping customers shop for the season all from the palm of their hands with its improved mobile website and new mobile applications for smartphones. The application, or app as it’s referred to, is free to download for Blackberry, Android and Apple devices, and the apps are available at Blackberry App World, the Android Market, and the Apple App Store.

“We realize our customers lead very busy lives, so we wanted our customers to be able to conveniently access Home’s online tools from anywhere,” said Paul Straus, president and CEO of Home Hardware Stores Ltd.
Customers will find a world of possibilities in the app, which gives users the ability to find their closest store, search and navigate over 60,000 products, get local prices, view the current flyer, and create a shopping list – all on their mobile device. There is also a unit converter capable of converting length, mass, area, volume and temperature.

This is the company’s first venture into the app world, and with the rise in mobile computing, the time was right to launch, notes the company’s director of marketing. “This is just a very basic entry and we’ll grow it and modify it as we go,” said Jack Baillie. “We’ve got lots of ideas of increasing the functionality in the future.” The St. Jacobs-based retailer launched the Blackberry and Android apps a couple of months back, but the Apple app was just released last week, said Baillie, adding the entire process only took a matter of months for programmers to accomplish from start to finish.

“It didn’t take very long. We work with our in-house folks and worked directly with the companies. Apple is a little more stringent in their expectations, so that’s why their’s didn’t launch as quickly as the others.”
Social media is the newest buzz-word in terms of marketing, and digital consumers are showing that they are hungry for applications that allow them to interact with brands, while providing them with unique and useful content.
Apple has more than half a million apps in its app store and more than 25 billion downloads since it launched in July of 2008.

Google Android isn’t far behind, either, with some 450,000 apps available and more than one billion downloads per month from the Android Market, which also launched in 2008. Blackberry also boasts some six million downloads per day through its App World, and has accumulated about two billion downloads since it launched in 2009.

“More and more people are making decisions and doing look-ups from handhelds no matter where they are,” said Baillie. “So it made sense for us to have a format that can tweak the desktop version to a readable option online for the mobile.”

The company has also embraced social media as a way of reaching customers, with many of the company’s 1,000 independent dealer-owners operating their own Twitter and Facebook accounts to reach their customers.
“Just walk around a mall and every second person is texting or talking on a phone. And as we all get more involved in social media you’re checking out your Facebook page or your Twitter account.”

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