The system is meant as another tool in helping the smaller hardware stores that House-Hasson serves compete against the “big box” retailers and it’s meant to help them reach a younger market, Hasson said

House-Hasson Hardware Co. is launching a program to help its hardware store clients channel Internet customers to their doorsteps.

The Knoxville-based wholesale hardware distributor worked with web development firm Knoxville Internet to come up with a “buy local” website tool that hardware dealers can customize to build their brands and to allow their customers access to House Hasson’s warehouse of more than 50,000 items.

“It gives a hardware store that can typically offer 5,000 to 6,000 items the ability to offer about 56,000 items,” said House Hasson President Don Hasson. “And it also means that the customer will have to go to the store.”

With the program,

each store gets a website it can customize to suit its brand. The website links to the House Hasson warehouse catalog, allowing a customer to go online and order from that.

The item is sent to the store, where the customer picks it up.

The system is meant as another tool in helping the smaller hardware stores that House-Hasson serves compete against the “big box” retailers and it’s meant to help them reach a younger market, Hasson said.

“Younger folks typically don’t have much experience with hardware stores,” Hasson said. “If they are under 25, they usually just go to Lowe’s or Home Depot.”

And they do much of their shopping online, he said.

The program was unveiled to dealers recently and Hasson said about 25 have signed up for it. He would like to get about 200 involved eventually. The first website, featuring a dealer in Greenville, Ala., should go online in about two weeks, Hasson said.

“We are also able to do some search optimization whereby they can come up higher on the list when people are looking for flashlights, hand tools, batteries or whatever,” Hasson said.

The websites will also give dealers automatic feeds to Facebook, Twitter and other social media when dealers do promotions.