Snyder Subsidiary Launches UK Grocery Home Shopping Service

LONDON – A US-owned direct marketing firm launched the UK’s first nationwide grocery home shopping service last month, attracting four times the expected number of shoppers.

Brann Limited, a subsidiary of Maryland-based Snyder Communications, created the service, known as `Orderline’, for J. Sainsbury’s, one of Britain’s largest supermarket chains.

“From our mailing campaigns we’ve had double the response and from our press advertisements, four times the response we expected,” said Paul Kitcatt, managing director for Brann’s London branch.

Sainsbury’s loyalty card database was also used with great success to attract the supermarket chain’s regular customers to the Orderline system.

“It’s been a huge success and this is only the beginning. We’ve had people coming up to us saying they’re never going to shop again,” he added. However, he decline to give out any exact response numbers.

`Orderline’ works like this: the customer first calls a toll free number to make an appointment with a store representative (and at this point receives a free video from J. Sainsbury’s explaining the service).

The customer then walks through the store with a hand scanner picking the items he or she would typically purchase. These can include fresh products.

The information is used in creating a personal catalog for the customer, who can then simply call, fax or e-mail the store to place an order and receive same day delivery.

The service costs 5 pounds ($8.50) for home delivery or

3.5 pounds ($5.70) if customers come into the store to pick them up. Problem items are replaced and delivered. If an entire order is wrong the next one is delivered free of charge.

About three quarters of Orderline users prefer to have their groceries delivered, while a quarter said they wanted to collect their pre-packed shopping at the store. Most customers phone in orders, followed by fax and e-mail.

`Orderline’ is presently operating in 14 stores but will be rolled out to 32 stores and reach up to 4 million customers around Britain by September.

IBM developed the technology for `Orderline’ and Ryder, the nation-wide distribution company, is delivering the goods. Brann is handling telephone orders from its own call center in Bristol, west England.

Sainsbury’s rival supermarket chains are bringing

similar systems on stream. Tesco has launched an Internet-based pilot project in Greater London and the northern city Leeds, for example.

But Kitcatt maintained that “Sainsbury’s is still the furthest ahead in the game. This scheme is going to put J. Sainsbury’s right back on the tip of the retail tree.”

“We have developed a service which offers our customers just what they need. Time saving shopping alternatives tailored to their specific requirements,” said Maureen Mitchell, J. Sainbury’s consumer direct manager.

Cost for installing Orderline in the Sainsbury stores is estimated at $2.2 million.

Few other countries have similar systems in place. Iceland has a nationwide home-delivery scheme, but the customer still has to visit the store to buy the goods.

Brann Limited has been ranked the leading agency in the UK by the magazine “Precision Marketing” in its annual “top 100 Agencies” survey. The poll is based on gross profit.

As well as J. Sainsbury’s, Brann’s clients include Barclays Bank, Coca Cola, Microsoft, Peugeot and the Royal Mail.

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