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Hayneedle launches new app, stays grounded in Omaha

Ryan Paulson, VP of Technology for Hayneedle

The Hayneedle app includes standard e-retailer functionality such as search capabilities based on user style preferences, special offers and deals, favorites list and secure purchasing via Apple Pay.

“We developed our app with the goal of providing a great mobile experience that is fast, secure, and optimized to our users’ needs when shopping on-the-go,” said Ryan Paulson, VP of Technology for Hayneedle. “While mobile web has a significant place in our portfolio, we saw the need for a Hayneedle native app that allows closer integration with the smartphone itself.”

Paulson said that Hayneedle is building more content than ever around different styles, rooms and trends to give customers realistic and attainable ideas around what they can do to their spaces.

“Outside of the shift to mobile, we are seeing customers expecting a greater level of inspiration and personalized experiences at hayneedle.com,” said Paulson. “For example, we want to give our customers the ability to upload a photo of a room and instantly be given full room designs based on their specific style preferences, where they live, their budget, etc.”

But where the app really breaks out from the pack is when it comes to its visual search functionality.

“When shopping for home furnishings and décor, consumers are often looking for a particular piece of furniture possibly in a certain style, fabric, etc. that they may have seen in a magazine, at a friend’s house or even in another store,” said Paulson. “We wanted to help our customers search for the things that catch their eye, without having to translate that image into words.”

Paulson said Hayneedle felt that visual search was a really empowering tool to put in the user’s hands and a way to really give them the best experience possible. Their internal team evaluated several potential vendors when looking for someone to build their Visual Search functionality.

“Ultimately, for our use case, Slyce was the partner we decided on because they gave us a tested and tried platform,” said Paulson. “With their previous experience integrating with other major retailers and their level of customer service, it really allowed us to feel confident moving forward with this functionality, even as part of our first native app release.”

Hayneedle.com started out in 2002 as hammocks.com, one of Omaha’s original startups. The company has evolved over the years, now offering a wide assortment of products from brands customers trust plus its own unique, quality furniture designs.

“There are many great startups within Omaha and we participate where we can to share our experiences – we weathered through the recession of 2009 and 2010, pivoted our business by rolling in our 250+ niche store into hayneedle.com and we were acquired twice in less than twelve months,” said Paulson. “A big part of the startup mindset is an emphasis on agility, speed and innovation.”

In 2016 Hayneedle was acquired by Jet.com, a next-generation e-commerce marketplace dedicated to saving shoppers more money. Later that year, Walmart purchased Jet.com in a $3.3 billion deal, which at the time was the biggest e-commerce acquisition deal in U.S. history.

“While Hayneedle is no longer considered a start-up, the culture here is still very much like it was before the acquisitions,” said Paulson. “Our core values are grounded within the Omaha entrepreneurial spirit and remain the same today. We continue to stay focused on selling products through great experiences while fostering innovation throughout our Omaha-rooted organization.”

Hayneedle’s corporate buildings, along with the company’s own photography studio and customer care center, are still based out of Omaha but the company employs more than 1,000 people nationwide from California to Ohio.

“These core principles can exist within any company regardless of size or years in existence,” said Paulson. “So, our biggest advice to any business, start-up or not, is to always keep customers at the forefront of anything and everything you do, establish core values that foster a great culture where people are proud to be part of and leverage the immense talent and resources right here in our backyard.”

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Christine McGuigan is the Managing Editor of Silicon Prairie News.

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