ELIZABETH, N.J. -- The majority of ShopRite stores in the Wakefern Food Corp. wholesale cooperative launched displays of low-priced computer software last month, according to the products' supplier. The selection, which is now in 108 of the 187 ShopRite stores, includes software on 3.5-inch disks and on CD-ROM, said Mar-Jeanne Tendler, chief executive officer of Wiz Technology, San Juan Capistrano, Calif. The 3.5-inch disks retail for $5, while the CD-ROMs sell for under $10, she said. Wakefern executives did not return calls for comment. Putting in the software "shows that Wakefern realizes how many people are getting computers," Tendler said. "It shows that they are a forward-looking company that sees potential here." The CD-ROM titles in jewel-case packaging purchased by the Wakefern stores includes 10 computer games on each disk, with a retail price of $9.95. The program was sold on a 90-day, in-and-out basis, she said, but some stores have already reordered products, said Tendler. Margins on the software are at least 40%, said Tendler. "It really has good profit potential for these supermarkets that generally only make a couple of percent on other grocery products." The number of computers in U.S. households is growing "exponentially," she noted. "We believe that over 60% now have a computer, so that means 60% of the people going to the grocery store have a compute." While some consumers are buying computers for the first time, others are upgrading from old systems and selling their old machines to people who can't afford new ones. "By the year 2000, probably 100% of the people will have computers. You just won't be able to live without one," said Tendler. Meanwhile, many computer stores are phasing out software on 3.5-inch floppy disks and will only carry CD-ROMs in the future, she noted. This creates an opportunity for supermarkets, according to Tendler.
"Everyone who has a computer has a 3.5-inch disk drive, but only half have a CD-ROM drive. So those people are going have a tough time finding floppies and we are still presenting them," she said. By carrying both CD-ROM and 3.5-inch disks in a software display, retailers such as the ShopRite operators "are catering to 100% of the computer users," said Tendler. "People are looking for new things to do with their computers," she said. Wiz will be bringing out some new in-and-out software programs in 1996 that will primarily target supermarket and drug store accounts, she said. These will be holiday-themed CD-ROM displays of 24 and 48 pieces.
For example, there will be multimedia Bibles for Easter. Other possibilities could be golf or other sports programming for Father's Day and educational types of programs for the Fourth of July. These products make good impulse items in supermarkets, Tendler said. "Since people buy everything else in supermarkets and drug stores, there is no reason why they can't buy inexpensive, high-quality software there. Once they try it, they will see it is just as good as the $69 to $79 to $89 titles, and then they will continue to buy the hot new titles," she said.