Pick n Pay tests new store distribution venture

Posted On Saturday, 03 February 2001 03:01 Published by
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PICK 'n Pay announced yesterday that it is testing its new home shopping service, announced in November last year.

Pick n Pay tests new venture CBN 2/03/2001

PICK 'n Pay announced yesterday that it is testing its new home shopping service, announced in November last year. Pick 'n Pay appointed M-Web to develop, maintain and host its new home shopping website, which it intends to launch to all consumers towards the middle of the year.

Pick 'n Pay CEO Sean Summers said: 'we are testing the new service with a group of selected participants, each of whom will be asked to purchase goods over the internet a number of times over a four month period. Three test stores are taking part, namely Faerie Glen Hypermarket in Pretoria, Lonehill Supermarket in Johannesburg and Claremont Supermarket in Cape Town. This gives us both a geographical and a store type mix, allowing us to refine the service and identify any problems very early on.'

Participants were recruited from within Pick 'n Pay's staff complement, through the company's website, from companies helping to set up the site and through an invitation to a portion of M-Web's subscriber base. Participants were drawn from the suburbs surrounding the three stores selected for the test.

Branded vans are to carry out deliveries in these three centres, supplied by special 'pickers' who will select and scan the consumer's identified items in-store.

'The technology we are applying is designed to make the process, from order to home delivery, as seamless as possible. The order submitted by a customer is downloaded to each respective store, where pickers are dispatched to select the items. Because each item in-store is electronically coded, the system allows for the pickers to be directed electronically from aisle to aisle to select each item and speed up the process. As each item is selected, it is scanned and if an incorrect product is selected by the picker, the scanner will not allow the transaction to be completed. In cases where the product is out of stock, an alternative is selected electronically, although customers can elect not to have substitutes delivered.'

The delivery system allows for a certain number of deliveries per hour, so when the customer first begins the purchasing process on-line, a selection of delivery times is offered. If the delivery time preferred is already 'full', then the customer is asked to select another delivery time.

'In keeping with international best practice, home shopping customers are supplied from our stores and not from a central distribution centre, and services such as deliveries are outsourced.'

For the period of the test, each test consumer is given coded access to a specific URL, and those not involved in the test are given a full explanation of the trial on Pick 'n Pay's corporate website.

The first two months of the trial are for Internet orders only, with telephone and fax ordering ready to trial towards the end of April. There is however a home shopping call centre providing backup service already.

Products supplied from Pick 'n Pay direct to the home are the same price as those available in-store, and prices of each of the 42 000 products available are updated daily. Pick 'n Pay charges a R35 delivery fee, with no minimum order amount.

When the system is deemed ready, it will be taken national, extending beyond the test areas to the rest of Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town, as well as to Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London, Bloemfontein and further afield. 'The idea is to eventually have the service available wherever we have stores, which makes our reach much wider than if we were using distribution centres.'

Said Summers: 'This trial phase is extremely important for us, to iron out any bugs and to thoroughly test processes and services. We will only roll this service out when we are absolutely satisfied that it is meeting and exceeding customer expectations'.

Publisher: Cape Business News
Source: Cape Business News

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