North Bay News: App aims to redirect online shoppers to local retailers

A North Bay company is trying to take on the online giant Amazon.

The One Red Maple app is up and running, which aims to redirect online shoppers to locally owned stores selling the same products as corporate chains, all to encourage customers to shop locally.

“We are basically the marketing engine for small, independent stores,” Mark Sherry, president of One Red Maple, said.

The app is currently only up and running in North Bay.

The app is free to download on both iPhone and Android.

Described as the ‘retail Robin Hood’, the smartphone app intercepts online shoppers on big retail or brand websites and finds the same products in the local market.

The idea for the app came before the pandemic started and is meant to level the playing field between large chains and smaller independent retail stores. In the wake of COVID-19, the divide has gotten even wider.

“Let’s say you’re shopping on Amazon and you’re at the final product page and you’re looking at it,” said Sherry.

“We will try and look through all of North Bay’s inventory, find a match and show that match to you.”

How it works is; the app scrapes the online inventory of independently owned businesses and puts it in its large database.

“One of the challenges they have is showing up in a Google search or showing up at all,” Sherry explained.

As you start searching for products, the app will find the local options; which are sometimes cheaper. There is also another way it works for people surfing the web on a desktop computer or laptop.

“There’s an extension, so if you have a desktop or laptop, you can download the extension on Google Chrome or Firefox,” Sherry added.

“We can get people to use it and change their shopping behavior, we can change every downtown.”

The North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce has been very supportive of the app’s launch.

“The One Red Maple App is all about supporting and shopping locally. It keeps wealth and local jobs which is positive for both business and local economy. We all need to get behind it by downloading the app and the more businesses that get involved the more robust the app experience will be,” Donna Backer, director of development, policy and communications at the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.

Lori Laporte, of Laporte’s Nursery and Greenhouse, calls the app a “game changer” for her business and other small businesses in the city after two years of pandemic hardship.

“Mark and his team stopped by one day and showed me if you google a bird feeder on google or amazon, the feeder comes up and they showed it to me in my store, the price of it in my store is half the price,” Laporte told CTV News.

In a few weeks, it will be open for Sudbury residents and businesses with plans down the line to expand to all of Canada and North America.