SAN ANTONIO -- H.E. Butt Grocery Co. here has introduced an interactive party planning kiosk at a new store to better solidify its position as a party destination.
The 2-foot-wide kiosk, developed with partner American Greetings, Cleveland, takes the shopper through the process of planning a party and ordering a cake from the bakery department. It is set up along a main traffic aisle between bakery and deli at a store that opened here last month on State Highways 281 and 1604.
An interactive kiosk of this type "bridges bakery and deli with general merchandise party planning for various social occasions," said Mike De La Garza, H.E. Butt's vice president of public affairs. "It's intended to create a synergy between those two departments within a very personal setting. Shoppers are able to just dial up their preferences and then have them fulfilled through the kiosk's list of suggestions," added the retailer.
Besides being able to order a cake through the kiosk, shoppers can learn about party themes, view a video on gift wrapping and table settings and receive a printed list of suggested general merchandise party items to pick up.
The list of commonly used party supplies ranges from greeting cards and gift wraps to film and blank video tapes. The program contains aisle locators to enable shoppers to easily find these supplies throughout the store.
Other product areas flagged on the list are tissue paper, ribbons and bows, decorative flags and balloons, flowers, toys and games, music, cellophane tape, beverages, ice cream and snacks.
Overhead signs, colorful graphics and a video attract shoppers to the kiosk, while an
infomercial reminds shoppers that H.E. Butt is their one-stop party center. The software moves "the customer to the purchasing decision quicker," said Jim Morrison, director of communications and multimedia production for American Greetings. Party themes range from baby and bridal showers to children's and adult birthdays. A prompt asks the recipient's sex and age in viewing appropriate cake suggestions from among the 150 different cake designs available. The supplier built digitized transparencies of the different cakes H.E. Butt offers at the bakery department into the kiosk software. For a child's fifth birthday, for example, the kiosk can narrow selections for that particular person and occasion and show the customer what the cakes actually look like for that age, said Morrison. Once a cake is ordered through the kiosk, an order form is printed with the design selected, pick up date, icing type, size, flavor, message and special instructions to the baker, customer name and telephone number. Customers no longer have to thumb though a cake catalog at the bakery counter. It also saves time at the bakery because customers already have their orders filled out when they come to the counter.
To maintain personal contact with bakery, however, shoppers still must carry the completed cake order to the department.
If this prototype unit proves successful, the chain could very well roll it into other stores, the vendor said. H.E. Butt, which has 160 stores primarily throughout south Texas, merchandises an assortment of cake decorations and candles, hats and streamers and party goods ensembles on three sides of the kiosk.