PORTLAND, Ore. -- Fred Meyer Inc. here is using e-mail via its web site to provide home-shopping services to its far-flung Alaskan customers.
The orders are fulfilled at one of seven Fred Meyer stores in Alaska, said Doug Cormany, vice president of information services at Fred Meyer. "Our employees pick and fill the customers' orders, but delivery is up to the individual," he said. Some customers pay for a third-party delivery service or even hire bush pilots to deliver their orders.
"Everyone knows that a small percentage of the grocery industry's revenues are made from Internet shopping -- less than 1%," he noted. "However, this will grow and we need to be prepared to make that happen."
Though the retailer has no current plans to expand its home-shopping service, Cormany told SN he expects the Internet eventually to have an effect on the chain's targeted marketing.
"We will eventually connect the Internet with our frequent-shopper Fresh Value Card so customers can track their points," he explained. Cormany gave no time frame for this project.
About two years ago customers in Alaska who regularly visited Fred Meyer's web page (www.fredmeyer.com) began asking for this home-shopping service.
"All our on-line customers have been in our stores before," said Cormany. "They are using our site's e-mail as another way to purchase additional supplies during the months where they cannot come to our stores.
"We are a very regional chain and we are not in metro areas," he added. "Right now we cannot afford to spend a lot of effort on rolling out home shopping chainwide. We do not do this version of home shopping in large volumes. We get orders on a very irregular and sporadic basis."
According to Cormany, Fred Meyer has more than one million stockkeeping units throughout all its departments, including grocery, home improvement, jewelry and apparel. Though the retailer does not provide an official listing of available products, Alaskan customers have the option to order any item, based on availability, via the Internet e-mail, telephone or fax.
"The Internet gives customers an additional avenue to send in their orders," Cormany said. "This [service] is free and we regard it strictly as another customer service."
Cormany was a speaker at the "Who Shops the Internet and Why" session during the RISCON '97 conference, held in Philadelphia.