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Ace Hardware’s new SMS program helps customers prepare for bad weather

January 27, 2012

New text messaging program alerts customers when bad weather is coming

Westlake Ace Hardware, which operates 88 Ace Hardware stores in several states, is delivering weather-related text alerts and special offers to help its customers be prepared when bad weather hits.

The Weather the Store mobile campaign gives customers an opportunity to opt-in to receive weather-related mobile notifications based on a participant’s ZIP code. The program is integrated with the National Weather Service to provide timely, location-based weather notifications.

“The growth in penetration of mobile devices provides a great opportunity for brands like Ace Hardware to build a deeper relationship with their customers,” said Mark Friedman, general manager of the mobile services business at SoundBite Communications Inc., Bedford, MA.

“Westlake customers have the opportunity to opt into this program,” he said. “By saying, yes, I want this weather alert information, this is increasing the value that Westlake brings to its customers.

“By providing the information that customers want, Westlake can improve loyalty and generate more revenue.”

Westlake worked with SoundBite Communications to develop and implement and the campaign.

Empowering customers
Brands are using SMS text messaging programs in a variety of ways to communicate with their customers, from sending special offers to driving mobile donations. This gives marketers a way to build an opt-in database of customers who want to receive information from a brand.

SMS text alerts that include relevant information are another important way brands are using this channel. For example, more than three million Walgreens customers have enrolled in a text alert program that lets them know when their prescriptions are ready.

Weather emergency preparedness is an important focus for Westlake Ace Hardware, which operates stores in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. The new SMS text messaging program is one more way the retailer is trying to help customers prepare for bad weather.

“The goal is to build a mobile database where consumers have the ability to state what types of communications they want to receive,” Mr. Friedman said. “This gives Westlake the opportunity to ask customers in the future what other types of communications they would like to receive.

“The beauty of it is that this puts power in the hands of the consumer,” he said.

Mr. Friedman pointed to the growth in mobile as an important reason why brands such as Ace Hardware are embracing the technology to market to their customers. Not only do many U.S. consumers now own mobile devices, they are increasingly choosing to receive communications on these devices.

“It is all about deepening that customer relationship and providing more value to the customer and providing the information they want when they want it in the communication channel they prefer to receive it,” Mr. Friedman said.

“This is a great example of the power of the mobile device,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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