LANDOVER, Md. -- Giant Food here has become one of the first supermarkets to offer overnight delivery of digital photo prints uploaded by customers through the Internet. The service is offered at 189 Giant and Super G stores, said Jack Serota, director, nonfoods. The retailer partnered with Eastman Kodak, Rochester, N.Y., to provide its Kodak Picture Center Online features on the Giant Food Web site, giantfood.com. Customers log on to Giant's Web site, upload their digital camera pictures, and order Kodak prints to be delivered to a local Giant or Super G store the next day. Orders must be placed by 11 a.m. for next-day delivery.
The overnight service, for which it does not charge shipping and handling fees, helps to differentiate Giant Food from its competition, Serota said. "Other services mail pictures back to the consumer three to 10 days later with a shipping and handling charge," he said. Some supermarkets, like Giant Eagle, Pittsburgh, offer in-store pickup of uploaded digital photos, but with a three-day delivery time, according to that retailer's Web site.
Gary Pageau, associate publisher, Photo Marketing Association International, Jackson, Mich., said that uploading pictures from a digital camera to an online service is "one of the many ways for people to get pictures from their digital cameras." While more retailers are of fering pickup services for digital prints, "this is pretty unusual for a supermarket."
Consumers uploading pictures online and picking them up at retailer outlets in all classes of trade is less than 5% of professional digital processing, Pageau said.
The prints are processed at a Kodak facility in Beltsville, Md., according to a Giant company spokesman. At four Giant locations, the delivery time takes two or three days because of the stores' remote locations, he said.
The Kodak Picture Center Online allows customers to e-mail their pictures, plus allows access to customized features like zoom, crop and red-eye reduction. While some Giant stores have one-hour photo labs that process digital prints, Serota said this service is Giant Food's first foray into enabling customers to order picture delivery from the comforts of home. "Giant Food's benefit is that we're able to offer a service our competition does not have," he told SN. "We make our customers happy with value-added service, and if we keep them happy, they keep coming back."
Customers can order 4x6, 5x7 and wallet-size prints. Prices are 49 cents for a 4x6 glossy print; $1.49 for a 5x7 shot; and $1.79 for four wallet-size glossy pictures, according to the Kodak Picture Center Online Web site. Customers pay for their digital prints through a secure online credit card system prior to pickup at the customer service counter.
Serota said the service benefits customers who either do not own a photo-quality computer printer, or who simply do not want to print pictures at home.
The Kodak program makes a "simple, tangible" difference for customers with digital cameras, a growth segment of the population, said Serota.
"With the explosion of digital cameras, it's a category that is continuing to grow," Serota said. "[Digital processing services] is something more retailers will have to offer if they want to stay in the business."
Giant Food, a division of Ahold USA, Chantilly, Va., is the only Ahold banner currently providing this overnight digital processing service, said Barry Scher, spokesman for Ahold USA. "There are no plans for other Ahold-operating companies to introduce the service at this time," he said.