Next year, Landover, Md.-based Giant Food expects to begin testing Docunet automatic dispensing machines for airline tickets ordered through travel agents. Later, tickets for Amtrak, and eventually entertainment and special events, will be available on the interactive devices, similar to a bank automated teller machine.
Customers will pay for the tickets using credit or debit cards.
The test will begin in Giant's 55 Baltimore area stores in January and roll out to all 150 stores in Washington and Virginia soon afterwards, supported by a broadcast and print campaign created in-house, said Terry Gans, Giant VP-advertising and sales promotion.
Giant is still working on a final agreement for the test with software developer Docunet, a South San Francisco, Calif., start-up company, and Dallas-based EDS, which will install store ATMs.
The machines also are to roll out to Ralphs Grocery Co. stores in southern California by midyear. But with Ralphs in the midst of a merger, plans are uncertain.
In addition to the supermarket locations, Docunet plans to install machines in malls, hotel lobbies, and other retail locations.
"We are the delivery side of the information superhighway," said Ron Colnett, marketing director and formerly CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, San Francisco. "We want to take the product to the consumer."
Mr. Colnett said Docunet plans a $1.5 million ad and promotion program starting in January for the Baltimore test.