HARDWARE STORES

RONA unveiled new-and-improved website and mobile app

BY HBSDealer Staff

Boucherville, Quebec-based RONA, the Canadian hardware retailer and distributor, has unveiled its new website and mobile application.

The new Rona.ca site offers a more user-friendly interface, and helps inform and guide consumers in their renovation or decoration projects based on personal interests. It also allows shoppers to evaluate and comment on some 30,000 products online. 

Customers are prompted to choose their favorite RONA store for pricing and availability, drop products in their shopping cart, and decide to have the product delivered to their home or to pick them up from the store. In addition, stores will receive up-to-date information on distribution center inventories. 

“Given that seven Canadians in 10 use the Internet to do their pre-shopping or online shopping, we can easily understand why rona.ca is the cornerstone of our new digital platform strategy,” said Karim Salabi, executive VP marketing.

The website will also allow the customer to choose his/her favorite store, offering greater flexibility.

RONA’s new mobile application, available for the Apple iPhone, gives access to rona.ca, in addition to a variety of other useful information, including:

• All products available on rona.ca, as well as inventory available at the customer’s chosen store;
• RONA flyers;
• Promotions and coupons;
• Information about specific stores (address, business hours, etc.); and
• Bar-code reader for easier price comparison.

“The new mobile application uses advanced technology that enables RONA to continue innovating with the aim of offering customers an efficient, engaging, modern and distinctive shopping experience,” said Louise Levesque, RONA’s senior director, e-business.

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Handy Hardware points to strong market

BY Ken Clark

Handy Hardware Wholesales San Antonio market, Aug. 10 to 12, saw an attendance increase of 11.2% over 2011, the Houston-based hardware co-op reported. 

Handy gave away six Toyota Tundra trucks during the market weekend, and it expects warehouse sales from the event will be at an all-time high, said Mickey Schulte, VP marketing and purchasing.

“We also debuted two new areas at this market: our merchandising services area, which focuses on how to re-energize your store and add extra areas of profit,” Schulte said. “And our oil field services area, providing the essentials to sell to the petroleum industry.”

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Small businesses still unsure of economic recovery

BY Brae Canlen

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) small business index, a monthly report on the economic health and outlook of the nation’s small, independently owned businesses, measured 91.2 for the month of July, slightly below its June reading of 91.4. Optimism fell for the third consecutive month, reaching its lowest level in nine months.

Respondents to the survey were pessimistic when it came to both sales and earnings; they did not expect either to rise in the near future. The small businesses were also negative in their overall economic outlook. 

Not everything was doom and gloom, however. Respondents said they hoped to do more hiring and raise their selling prices. They also expected credit conditions to ease. 

IHS Global Insight economist Chris Christopher said he has already noticed a drop in optimism among small business owners since the beginning of the summer. “The [NFIB] report is not good since small businesses are feeling the brunt of this sluggish economic recovery,” Christopher said. “The real downer in this report is that small businesses do not see much hope for positive earnings. The good news in this report is that more firms feel the need to hire, and the overall outlook did not fall by much. Looking ahead, small business optimism should still remain in a depressed state of affairs until there is considerably more stable consumer spending growth and renewed confidence that the government can provide solutions to Main Street.”

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