The Project\u2002::\u2002Deploy software that allows shoppers to use their cell phones to find products on Ace Hardware shelves, as well as receive mobile alerts and coupons.\n \n \n \nThe Business Case\u2002::\u2002Customer service has always been the top priority for Rick Baalmann, whose company, Bamm, owns and operates four Ace Hardware stores in the St. Louis area. And while the hardware business is in his blood\u2014he likes to joke that he was \u201cborn right next to the key machine\u201d in his dad\u2019s Montana store\u2014it\u2019s new technology that gets his heart pumping. He implemented a perpetual inventory system ahead of his peers in the 1980s and was awaiting the arrival of his iPad in April. \u201cI\u2019m a dreamer when it comes to technology,\u201d Baalmann says.\n \n But when he heard about Aisle411\u2019s mobile product location service, he saw down-to-earth value in its potential to increase sales. The software, which works with all mobile devices, lets customers call a toll-free number, state a location and the store, ask for an item and receive within seconds the location of the product. It also enables customers to create mobile shopping lists and delivers coupons and alerts to those who opt in.\n \nFirst Steps\u2002::\u2002The Aisle411 system integrates interactive voice and text messaging with store data. To get this system running last December, Baalmann and his team had to make sure his stores\u2019 product location codes were all accurate. Every four-foot section in the store has a location number and every product is assigned at least one location in the point-of-sale (POS) system\u2014sometimes more, like solder that\u2019s in both tools and plumbing. \u201cThat was the heaviest lifting we had to do,\u201d he says.\n \n He also worked with Aisle411\u2019s mobile messaging team to create monthly Ace Helpful Hints. The day before daylight saving time began, an alert reminded customers to change their clocks and offered a dollar off smoke detectors and batteries. In the spring, customers will read that it\u2019s the perfect time to overseed the lawn (spread additional seed for thicker grass). \u201cWe\u2019re trying to find things that the customer will see value in us reminding them of,\u201d Baalmann says.\n \n Those who have used the mobile tools like them, adds Baalmann, who pays a monthly fee for the service. Later this year, he plans to dig into the usage. \u201cAt some point\u201412 to 18 months\u2014we\u2019ll be able to put a number on that value.\u201d\n \n Twelve other ACE Hardware stores in the St. Louis area are using the mobile marketing feature and a couple more are using the product locator, says Baalmann, but he thinks usage is likely to grow across the national dealer-owned hardware company. Baalmann meets with local dealers monthly to plan ads and share successes\u2014whether it\u2019s a new gift card or an emerging technology. Yearly, the heads of all dealer groups nationwide meet to do the same.\n \nWhat to Watch Out For\u2002::\u2002Every month, Baalmann updates the product location codes\u2014all 30,000 of them. He runs a report in the POS system, converts it to a Microsoft Excel file, and exports the data to Aisle411. It\u2019s time-consuming, so Baalmann is working with the vendor to integrate its software with his POS system. But the biggest challenge is getting customers to embrace the service. Baalmann markets it in his stores through displays and by having associates explain it to shoppers. \u201cAs we get more people in [our] dealer group on board, we can incorporate it into our advertising,\u201d he says.