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Ace Hardware streamlines credit card application process via mobile

Ace Hardware is letting consumers apply for a branded credit card via the company’s new mobile application.

The Ace Hardware app is available for iPhone devices and lets users apply for an Ace Rewards Visa Credit Card. The credit card is operated by U.S. Bank.

“The strategy behind the app lets us provide another channel for customers to apply for the Ace Rewards Visa and lets customers apply securely and privately when and where they want,” said Jeff Gooding, director of consumer marketing at Ace Hardware, Oak Brook, IL.

“We see mobile as a key component in support of our brand promise of being helpful and convenient,” he said.

Ace Hardware operates 4,600 locally-owned hardware stores in 50 states and 60 countries.

Mobile application
The Ace Rewards program is the retailer’s loyalty program and includes an option to link an account to a Visa credit card.

Users can download the Ace Rewards Visa Credit Card app for free from Apple’s App Store.

Before applying for the credit card, consumers can learn more about the benefits of the Ace Rewards Visa Credit Card via the app.

The app breaks down interest rates, interest charges, annual percentage rates and fees of the card to let users know exactly what they are applying for.

The app also includes click-to-call features that users can tap to contact Ace Hardware’s Visa Credit Card department with any questions.

To apply for a card, users fill out an electronic version of the application form, which includes a consumer’s name, address, social security number and annual income.

Users then find out on the spot if they are approved for the card.

Additionally, consumers can show their mobile device to an Ace Hardware employee at the point-of-sale when they are ready to check-out.

Via the app, cardmembers can manage their accounts and access Ace Hardware’s mobile site to learn more about products or find nearby locations.

In-store signage with mobile bar codes are being used to promote the app. Shoppers can scan the QR code to be taken to Apple’s App Store to download the app.

Ace Hardware is also taking advantage of email to spread the word on the app.

Mobile hardware
By letting consumers learn about a branded credit card, Ace Hardware is able to increase the number of consumers with the company’s credit card, which helps the retailer build loyalty. Additionally, the app helps Ace Hardware employees speed up the application process.

For each purchase made, consumers earn Ace Rewards points and can save money on their Visa purchases, giving users an incentive to use their cards.

Ace Hardware has been doing a lot in the mobile space recently and has big plans for 2012.

Recently, Ace Hardware debuted its first mobile advertising campaign on The Weather Channel’s iPad app with a location-specific ad that let consumers buy winter tools (see story).

Additionally, the Westlake Ace Hardware franchise is using an SMS program to keep consumers up to date on weather alerts and special offers (see story).

According to Mr. Gooding, the company is planning to revamp its mobile site in 2012 to make it commerce-enabled. The compant is also looking for ways to let users interact with local stores more.

For a retailer, an app offers consumers a quick way to apply for credit.

“With the instant line of credit for cardholders, retailers can capitalize on where the customer is in the buying cycle and immediately satisfy that purchase need,” said John Owens, senior vice president of U.S. Bank retail payment solutions, Minneapolis, MN.

“The mobile solution ensures that customer throughput – time in check-out line is not impacted – because the sign-up process can occur anywhere,” he said.

“In addition, U.S. Bank’s mobile solution provides this functionality and customer experience to our retail partners with no integration or costly build required by them. Finally, the retailer is able to avoid paper inventory and routing processes.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York