Belfast Telegraph

iPhone app begins new chapter in this success story

By Margaret Canning

A Christian bookstore in Co Armagh is hoping to reach new congregations around the world as it launches an iPhone app.

ICM Books Direct has embraced e-commerce and tripled sales through its website in the last 12 months.

The company, based in Lurgan, sends books to locations including Japan, Australia and the US. Now it is praying its new e-commerce enabled iPhone app will boost global sales further.

Alan Millar of GCD Technologies, which developed ICM's website and app, said there was a large market for Christian books.

"Christian books are a multi-billion dollar industry and there are tens of thousands of Christian bookstores around the world. Becoming the very first to launch an iPhone app is therefore really significant, and gives ICM Books a head start on its competitors," Mr Millar points out.

"When the company was founded in the mid-1990s, it was a traditional bookstore selling used books, but it has grown to include a purpose built warehouse stocking over 10,000 Christian books and media, from where it distributes to tens of thousands of customers around the world.

"The company's business model is to provide a wide-range of Christian books at low prices to a global customer-base with the highest quality service, and the new iPhone app really supports this.

"Whilst the owner of the company doesn't even own a mobile phone, he realises the need to be innovative and to utilise online and mobile media to reach new audiences," he added.

ICM has grown into one of the biggest Christian booksellers in the UK, and sells books, CDs and DVDs to churches and individuals.

The Catholic Church recently authorised the use of a confession app, which guides a listener through the penitential rite and costs £1.19 on iTunes.