December 10, 2012, 5:16 PM

Mobile and print intersect in a new catalog app

Ballard Designs enables consumers to shop its catalog via iPhones or iPads.

Lead Photo

The Ballard+ mobile catalog app displays a window with six options when a consumer taps a product on screen.

Ballard Designs Inc., a retailer of European-inspired home furnishings and accessories, is infusing its print catalog with some mobile commerce magic, enabling consumers to shop the catalog with their iPhones or iPads.

The Ballard+ app uses mobile image recognition and augmented reality technologies called VisualCommerce, from Marxent Labs LLC, to connect a print catalog to the digital world. A consumer launches the app and holds her device above the print catalog, pointing the device’s camera at the page. On screen, the app outlines products on the page with a white box and places a checkmark in the middle. The consumer touches a box and the app displays a window with the name of the product and six buttons: Add to Cart, Add to Favorites, More Views, Reviews, Details and Share.

She then can see more pictures of the product; read customer reviews; get more product information; share the product along with a comment on Facebook, Twitter or e-mail; or add it to her cart, where she can purchase the product.

“Our customers not only look to the Ballard catalog for home décor and accessories, but also for design inspiration and ideas. The Ballard+ app enhances the experience of flipping through the catalog each month by simply integrating a mobile device,” says Ryan McKelvey, president of Ballard Designs. “Having the functionality of our online channels directly available with our print catalog creates an ease of use that will provide an innovative, digital experience for our customers.”

Ballard+ is compatible with iPhone 4/4S and 5, as well as iPad 2, iPad with Retina Display, and iPad mini. The free app will work with the Ballard Designs December 2012 Early Winter issue, with more to be added in the future.

Ballard Designs prints 50 million catalogs a year, the company says. It is a unit of Cornerstone Brands, which is owned by HSN Inc., No. 14 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400.

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