MONTVALE, N.J. -- A&P here has begun offering home shopping services via personal computer through six of its New York City Food Emporium stores, now linked up with a national on-line service provider.
Food Emporium, which launched the program Jan. 15, is the latest in a string of retailers to offer shop-at-home services through America Online, Vienna, Va. P&C Food Markets, Syracuse, N.Y., signed on with the computer service last month.
Food Emporium had previously offered home shopping and delivery services through telephone orders. The new service, called Tele-Direct Shopper and promoted with a 100-page catalog circulated in a recent Sunday edition of The New York Times, is designed to enhance shopper convenience.
"Manhattan was the obvious place [to introduce the program] because of the density of population and the difficulty of getting groceries" home from the store, said Michael Rourke, senior vice president of communications and corporate affairs at A&P. Most shoppers in Manhattan either walk home from the store or use public transportation, purchasing only what they can comfortably carry.
The home shopping service costs $9.95 per order during an introductory period ending March 31, when the fee will rise to $11.95.
Order-taking and delivery services, which are available to customers located below 96th Street in Manhattan, are provided by Shoppers Express, Bethesda, Md.
Rourke said the success of the Food Emporium pilot will determine whether A&P will roll out the service to other divisions. "We will follow it carefully," he said, adding that future rollouts would most likely be in urban areas.
Another retailer soon to be offering on-line shopping services is P&C Food Markets, owned by Penn Traffic, Syracuse, N.Y. The retailer introduced a fax and phone-order program last month and will begin accepting PC-based orders later this month.
Sue Hosey, a spokeswoman for P&C, said, "We've had customers already requesting [home shopping services via PC]."
P&C's service enables consumers to order groceries from 16 of its Syracuse-area stores. Hosey said the retailer chose the Syracuse market because of its dense population and because it is the site of P&C's corporate headquarters.
"It's a big enough metropolitan area to test the service," she said. P&C officials believe the groups who will most benefit from the service are double-income families with limited time to shop, and elderly and disabled customers who cannot travel to a store.