ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

This new app from Native Rewards encourages shopping local – and supporting Hoover’s economy at the same time.

 

In a time when you can order anything from groceries to a casket online, it is safe to say that the way consumers shop has drastically changed. Jumping in the family car and driving to the local shopping mall or retail outlet seems … obsolete. Convenience is king in this world but at what price? For cities like Hoover, with a thriving local economy, the fight to maintain that status is waged on the frontlines of technology.



“It is well-documented the effect that online shopping is having on brick-and-mortar establishments,” Hoover City Councilman Dr. Casey Middlebrooks says. “It is important we maintain the economic engine Hoover is and support that by shopping local. The tax revenue local retail provides is vital to maintaining our high quality of living and top notch services to our citizens.”

Middlebrooks, who had been searching for a way to develop a shop local initiative for Hoover, caught the eye of Native Rewards, an Alabama based company with his #liveloveshophoover hashtag. “Myself, city representatives and representatives from the Hoover City Schools Foundation met with Native and listened to their pitch and felt like the Native app was the way to move forward,” Middlebrooks says.

Native spent over a year using Fort Payne, Alabama as its test lab for a local shopping app.  “Fort Payne had a population of approximately 18,000 people with a struggling economy and minimum tech,” Native’s Jordan Doufexis says. “We launched in March of 2016, and within a year had over 50 merchants on the app with 3,500 users and awarded over $16,000 in Native Rewards in our first year.”

With positive results in Fort Payne, Native began looking for more areas to expand its mission of “strengthening through technology.” Hoover, with its high dependency on retail and strong sense of community, was the perfect place. “After we spoke with Councilman Middlebrooks, it became clear that Hoover was where we had to be,” Doufexis says.

Consumers ultimately want to spend money when there is value, not just monetarily, but in time conservation, too. Now, to shop local and find the best bang for your buck in Hoover, all you need is your smart phone. “The most valuable commodity is time. We can’t create more time, but we can offer more incentives and value for local shoppers through our app,” Doufexis says.

What Live Love Shop Hoover Offers

Through the Live Love Shop Hoover app, local shoppers can search for products and follow their favorite local store and restaurants and receive notifications on special events and deals. On the app, businesses are listed under four categories: Eat, Shop, Play and Live. “Everything we do is focused on providing merchants and shoppers with more value. The app provides merchants with the tools and technology needed to directly connect with potential customers at a price point that can’t be matched,” Doufexis says.

David Cohen, owner of The Whole Scoop, found the prospect of a Hoover shopping app fit perfectly with his business. “We are happy that there is a program in place to keep our sales revenue in Hoover and our tax dollars working in our economy,” he says.

Cohen was also impressed with how the app benefits Hoover schools. Every time a Hoover resident checks in at one of the Live Love Shop Hoover merchants like The Whole Scoop with the Native Rewards app, Native makes a donation to the Hoover City Schools Foundation. “We are excited that Native Rewards will add 1 cent for every guest that checks in with the app at The Whole Scoop,” Cohen says.

Shoppers benefit from tools on the app by receiving exclusive deals, digital loyalty cards, updates and a weekly fortune giveaway. Native has already given away more than $500 in Hoover since its launch in June. “Rewards through Native must be spent at merchants on the app. This provides a direct injection of cash flow by Native into the Hoover economy,” Doufexis says.

Check in and Discover

Paige Meyer, a resident of Monte D’Oro, finds the app a great tool for both a business and a consumer. “As the wife of a small business owner, I love the idea of supporting local any way I can. The Native Rewards app is an easy way to do just that, and actually winning Native Bucks and being able to use them in some of my favorite shops around Hoover just made it even better,” she says. Meyer downloaded the app for free and was one of the weekly winners after checking in with the app while shopping at Mainstreet Monograms.

As shoppers use the app and check in by scanning a Native Rewards barcode displayed at the register, businesses can access demographic analytics. Shoppers are entered into the Weekly Fortune Giveaway, and Native makes a donation to the Hoover City Schools Foundation. All with a scan. One winner is drawn each week and receives Native Bucks, which can be spent at any Native merchant.

The app also allows users to search businesses they are not currently following or have not heard about or visited. The “Discover” options show posts from businesses in the area with new deals. It is a great feature for finding local hot spots and hidden gems.

Other Features

Benefiting both merchants and shoppers, the Live Love Shop Hoover app also features loyalty cards and coupons. The merchant version of the app has analytics to help business owners reach new customers.

As more and more citizens and businesses embrace this initiative, Middlebrooks says he believes the city will see a new shopping culture develop where people are excited to shop local. And as the services on the app expand, Hoover’s citizens might in the future enjoy some of the same benefits of online shopping, such as home delivery.

“Whether you’re a retailer, restaurant, recreational facility or a professional service, our app has features that will increase your customer base and improve your bottom line,” Doufexis says. “We have Point of Sale (POS) integration and the Native Market features coming to the app will give our merchants the ability to put their products on the app where users can shop locally from their phone and have the item ready for pickup. Once these features are ready, then next-day home delivery for retail will be the next step.”

The Future of Shopping in Hoover

Doufexis and his wife Ashley have taken up roots in Hoover to see the project grow in its next phases. “Once we’re able to provide shoppers with a way to get the product they want to their doorstep faster than Amazon, and them also be rewarded for shopping local, then it’s only a matter of time before all the businesses in Hoover see the benefits of joining the Live Love Shop Hoover movement,” he says.

Through Live Love Shop Hoover, it is the hope of Native and city officials that residents will turn to the local shopping app before going to Google or Amazon. “You’ll check the app for a product or service and see where it’s offered around you and at what price, all in one place,” Doufexis says. “You’ll then have the option to go pick it up right then or have it delivered the next day. This is the future of retail and the city of Hoover will be the model for the rest of the country.”

The Native Rewards app can be downloaded for free through the App Store and Google Play. Business owners who are interested in joining the Live Love Shop Hoover movement can visit Choosenative.com/hoover.