Stop & Shop to Roll Out 'Shopping Buddy' to 20 Stores in 1Q '05

QUINCY, Mass. - Following a successful pilot at three stores, the Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. plans to roll out new intelligent shopping carts from IBM and Cuesol to 20 additional stores -- and retrofit the three pilot stores -- in the first quarter of 2005.

Huge customer acceptance of the units is a main contributing factor to moving forward with the rollout. "Everyone is using the unit," Faith Weiner, senior director of government and media relations for the chain, told Progressive Grocer. "We see grandparents using them, parents with children, single men and women -- once they use it for the first time, they continue using it."

Stop & Shop's new "Shopping Buddy" includes a wireless, touch-screen IBM computer on the shopping cart, equipped with a laser scanner to allow shoppers to scan items as they place them in the cart and to use loyalty cards to alert the store that they have arrived.

Supported by IBM's Store Integration Framework software, the Cart Companion software from Cuesol, an IBM business partner, enables a grocery shopper to have a personalized shopping assistant on his or her cart, with such features as:

• Shopper's buying history and favorites, as well as a shopping list that can be created at home and e-mailed to the store;

• Notification of favorite items or other promotional items that are on sale, as the shopper approaches those items in the aisle;

• Personalized offers, including coupons, in the aisle as the shopper approaches an item;

• The ability to place a deli order from the cart, then picking up the order when the deli counter notifies the shopper on the cart's computer that it is ready;

• The ability to locate particular items in the store;

• The shopper's loyalty program points and reward level;

• Price checks through use of the personal shopping assistant's scanner;

• The ability to keep a running total of items in the cart by scanning each item. The Shopping Buddy also shows total savings and allows for rapid self-checkout at the end of the shopping trip.

Stop & Shop also uses IBM self-checkout systems to enable the self-checkout feature of the new Shopping Buddy once shoppers have completed their cart-based self-scan.

Potential updates to the Shopping Buddy system include: meal planning sorted by category, favorites, sale items, diet type, and preparation time. It also will be able to offer the shopper a guided shopping trip, showing a store map with shopper and product icons mapped by location. In addition, future features could include pharmacy favorites, ordering and notification, as well as product information that allows for comparison with similar items, consumer ratings, and gift suggestions.

"Grocery shopping will never be the same once shoppers begin using the features of the new Shopping Buddy," said Stop & Shop President & c.e.o. Marc Smith. "Our initial pilot tests of these systems have been very positive. Our customers who use them tell us they love them. Advanced retail technology like this will allow us to better serve our customers by saving them time and giving them new personalized services."

The pilot, launched last year in two stores and eventually expanded to a third, was reported in Progressive Grocer's September 1, 2003 issue.

-- Joseph Tarnowski
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