March 13, 2002, 12:00 AM

Shoppers are quick to walk down the Endless Aisle, NetGrocer says

Supermarket shoppers are quick to understand the concept of using a web-enabled kiosk to find items a store does not stock, Nexpansion says. Half of consumers in research groups said they would switch grocers to use such kiosks.


Supermarket shoppers are quick to understand the concept of using a web-enabled kiosk to find items a store does not stock--so quick, in fact, that half of the consumers in research groups say they would switch supermarkets to take advantage of such a program, Lisa Kent, CEO of Nexpansion, which has started installing such kiosks in Stop & Shop Supermarkets in New England, tells Internet Retailer. “The idea is extremely compelling to them,” Kent says. “There was not one shopper who couldn’t think of at least five times in the past year when she or he couldn’t find a particular item in a grocery store.”

Stop & Shop Supermarkets is installing Nexpansion’s Endless Aisle kiosks linked to The kiosks are manufactured by Kiosk Information Systems Inc. NetGrocer will make up to 50,000 items available to each supermarket chain. Customers who are looking for certain items that the store does not carry will be able to order them through the kiosk. Each chain will decide if the product will be delivered to the customer’s home or to the store for pick up. Stores will be responsible for providing the space for kiosks, marketing and connections to the Internet.

The store will recognize the revenue as a store sale and will add its usual mark-up to the price. The chains will pay Nexpansion a fee for processing and fulfilling the order. “The sales are 100% incremental to the stores,” Kent says.

The concept grew out of NetGrocer’s work with brand-name manufacturers. NetGrocer had worked out a deal with certain manufacturers that when a customer called looking for a product that was not available in her immediate area, the manufacturer would arrange with NetGrocer to take the order and deliver the product to the customer. “The manufacturers didn’t want to turn the customer away, but they also didn’t want to send her 100 miles to a store that carried the product and they didn’t want to make her buy a case quantity,” Kent says. “So they turned to us.”


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