ROME, Ga. -- Piggly Wiggly Stores here plans to launch a web site this summer that will offer home-shopping services to its frequent-shopper members.
Once the site is established, the retailer plans tests of both the site and the service. One test will use 150 consumers who have access to the Internet. The other will recruit retirees who might enjoy the convenience of home shopping.
"I want [consumers] to have a reason to carry our card and have it all the time," said Jim Salmon, president of W.E. Salmon Inc., which owns the Piggly Wiggly franchise in Floyd County, Georgia. "Home shopping is one more reason."
During the test period, Piggly Wiggly plans to provide people living in retirement communities who are interested in accessing the home-delivery service with a computer, a paid Internet connection and an individual from its store to teach them how to use the system.
An important element of the test will be to determine if multiple deliveries to one site, such as a retirement community, can make a home-shopping program cost-efficient.
Retirees and consumers who participate in the test, but are not yet preferred-shopper card members, could also sign up for the program. No service fee would be charged for delivery during the test, said Salmon. He noted that the retailer already has 37,000 preferred-shopper card members.
Salmon explained that home shopping can be a costly endeavor, but he believes offering it will result in Piggly Wiggly "gaining a lot of competitors' customers," because other retailers in the area don't offer this service.
"We plan to begin both tests at the same time because we believe the volume from the retirement communities will help pay for the new delivery system," Salmon said.
"If we can combine one delivery with 20, 30 or 40 customers' [orders] then it will be a financially efficient way to deliver groceries to one location," he added. "It's feasible we may be able to do this without a service charge indefinitely because it would be such a large order to one location."
The retailer intends to develop the web site itself; technology acquisition for the home-shopping portion of the site is still under negotiation.
The retailer's intent is to make the site accessible to preferred-shopper card members who enter their card number and a password of their choice.
Once in the site, customers would be able to look up grocery items by brand, category and store aisle. When the items are selected and the order is complete, the computer system would send a fax order to the store closest to that person's address. Then the order would be filled and delivered to the customer, at which point the customer would pay for it. The retailer said having customers' credit cards on file is one way of handling payment.
Piggly Wiggly also plans to partner with local Internet service providers, as well as a variety of other local businesses, to further promote its preferred-shopper card and its new home-shopping service.
The retailer's new Bonus Points Program, expected to roll out by June 1, enables preferred-shopper card members to receive points for every dollar purchase. The points can be redeemed for services, merchandise or cash.