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WINN-DIXIE, ECKERD GO INTERACTIVE SHOPPERVISION SIGNS RETAILERS TO PARTICIPATE IN TIME WARNER TEST

By Published on .

Winn-Dixie Stores and Jack Eckerd Corp. are jumping on the interactive bandwagon.

The retailers will be a part of ShopperVision, an interactive grocery and drugstore shopping venue on Time Warner's Full Service Network in Orlando, Advertising Age has learned.

Consumers participating in Time Warner's test, scheduled to start later this year, will be able to shop from the comfort of their couches and have their purchases delivered by Shoppers Express, a grocery ordering and delivery service contracted by ShopperVision (AA, Jan. 10).

"I think those people that don't have the time to invest in shopping are going to be looking for other methods ... that are more convenient and time-saving for them. And we definitely feel people are willing to pay," said Sandy Goldman, president-ceo of Norcross, Ga.-based ShopperVision.

The service's technology allows merchandise to be displayed in color, as it appears on the store shelf. Using a remote control, shoppers can choose an item, view the ingredients panel, rotate it, and put it in an on-screen shopping cart. Purchases can be tacked onto the monthly cable bill or be paid for by credit card.

Time Warner subscribers won't pay a separate fee for the ShopperVision service, but there will be a delivery charge of $9.95 for each Winn-Dixie order. Eckerd orders will be delivered free.

One Winn-Dixie and at least two Eckerd stores in the Orlando area will serve as fulfillment sites for the test.

"Our efforts are always to stay up with the changing needs of our customers," a Winn-Dixie spokesman said. "We want to adjust to the way that our customers want to shop."

Winn-Dixie-like Eckerd-is a client of the Shoppers Express delivery service, so it was a natural next step for the supermarket chain to try interactivity, the spokesman said.

"It's not going to make any difference whether they see it on television or look at a [Shoppers Express] catalog; it's just another way of communicating," the spokesman said.

"The interface was interesting and intriguing to us," an Eckerd spokesman said, adding that the drugstore chain hopes to use the test to gain a better understanding of how its customers will react to interactivity.

The retailers will subsidize most of the cost of providing the service to subscribers, either through their own funds or in conjunction with marketers, Mr. Goldman said. Both spokesmen declined to discuss the terms of their contracts with ShopperVision.

ShopperVision piggybacks on the popularity of computer services that provide online grocery shopping and delivery. But its video interface is designed to set it apart from the endless lists of products and prices common to such computer offerings.

In a demonstration of the system provided to Advertising Age, an opening screen welcomes shoppers. By pressing any button on the TV remote control, the next screen pops up, offering a choice of using the Supermarket Channel or the Drugstore Channel.

Shoppers can recall their last shopping trip, look at electronic coupons or see short ads for on-special products. By choosing a particular product category, the shopping trip begins.

Take a "walk" down the health & beauty aids aisle. What's on the TV screen is an exact duplicate of store shelves. Products are in full color, with prices underneath them, just as they appear in the store.

ShopperVision accomplishes this by downloading information from the store's retail space management software into its own system. Any changes the store makes in product mix or layout are also entered into the ShopperVision system. Prices are the same in both the retail outlet and on TV.

"I think we complement the grocery stores," Mr. Goldman said. "I think some people will buy commodity products through the TV for convenience and will still go to the store for produce and meats because they want to touch and feel the products."

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