ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Buoyed by the success of its first prepaid phone card, Carr Gottstein Foods here has launched a second prepaid telephone card, which it hopes will generate more impulse sales.
"We're actively going after the [prepaid telephone card] business with signs, checker badges and promotions in weekly food ads," said Gary Schloss, vice president of general merchandise.
In April, the chain started selling its second prepaid phone cards at all checkout registers. The cards, "Call Time," are supplied by Frontier Communications International, Rochester, N.Y.
Carr has an exclusive on the "Call Time" prepaid phone card in Anchorage and is selling a 30-minute card for $10 and a 60-minute version for $20.
"We're carrying those denominations, which are the most popular, in order to manage fewer SKUs," explained Schloss.
The chain also opted for its new phone card to be in a limited selection to speed up the purchasing decision. "When there are too many choices customers sometimes hesitate, but with fewer choices you eliminate some of the guesswork," stressed the executive.
Schloss said after researching the prepaid telephone card market the chain decided on the "Call Time" brand. It has enabled Carr "to carry a phone card that is sold across the nation, with strong supplier point-of-sale support," Schloss said.
Carr also continues to carry Western Union phone cards at service counters, which Schloss said do well. Some Carr customers are accustomed to purchasing that brand. The chain has carried it for about the past three years.
"Some shoppers prefer a Western Union phone card. They feel comfortable with the name. It also ties in with Western Union money orders offered in our stores," said Schloss.
Supermarkets are in a strong position to foster repeat sales in the highly competitive market for prepaid phone cards, he said.
"Convenience is a major factor in where consumers decide to purchase a prepaid phone card, and many people are in a supermarket two to three times a week," said Schloss.
"That's the same reason why our customers come to us for a video rental instead of Blockbuster," he added. Moreover, POS materials, including signs at cash registers alerting customers that phone cards are for sale there, can trigger impulse purchases, Schloss pointed out. This will keep the sale from going to a gas station, Wal-Mart or Kmart, he said.