INDIANAPOLIS -- Several supermarket chains around the country have begun offering package-shipping services that leverage the Internet, but few stores seem to be encouraging consumers to use it.
Marsh Supermarkets here is the most recent chain to install a service called Simply Packages, which allows customers to select shipping options on the Web and then bring the package to their local supermarket to have it shipped. Using the Web is supposed to save time at the service counter because clerks don't have to ask the customers as many questions.
However, in random calls to more than 20 stores -- including Marsh, King Soopers and Randalls -- SN was told several times that it would be easier to just come into the store and have the clerk fill out the form at the service counter. Some of the people who answered the phones at the stores said they didn't know the Internet component was available, and another said she knew it was available but had never heard of anyone using it.
One clerk said the new service, which is provided by Neopost Online, Redwood City, Calif., was quicker than previous shipping services, however. Representatives from the chains could not be reached for comment.
Consumers who use the service pay a small fee, a percentage of which goes to the retailer. The service is being supported in the Indianapolis market with radio ads.
"The focus right now is on making people aware and encouraging trial," said Gary Paladin, vice president of marketing at Neopost.