BASHAS' TO GO ON-LINE WITH DEBIT, CREDIT CARDS

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Bashas' Markets here expects to have all its stores on-line with credit and debit cards by November. In the roughly 34 stores where the system has been rolled out thus far, debit and credit is commanding substantial usage. Electronic transactions already make up about 10.5% of an average store's volume, said Tony Rinella, management information systems director for the chain.Bashas'

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Bashas' Markets here expects to have all its stores on-line with credit and debit cards by November. In the roughly 34 stores where the system has been rolled out thus far, debit and credit is commanding substantial usage. Electronic transactions already make up about 10.5% of an average store's volume, said Tony Rinella, management information systems director for the chain.

Bashas' is determining the order of future rollouts by giving priority to stores where customers have requested credit and debit payment options. High sales volume is also driving the decision about which locations to bring on-line next. "We're moving along now, doing two to three stores a week," Rinella said.

In addition to introducing credit and debit, Bashas' plans to implement an automated check-authorization system to speed up check processing. "We'd like to set up a test by the end of the year, but we're still in the planning stages on that," Rinella said.

Bashas' began introducing credit and debit cards in January 1993, but the system initially in place in participating stores could not handle the volume. This March the chain switched to a system manufactured by VeriFone, Redwood City, Calif.

The system, which consists of a terminal and personal identification number pad connected to a MicroTrax computer and software package, is a separate unit from the cashier terminal, but is more compatible with store-based technology than the previous system, Rinella said.

"It's easier for people at the stores to close out [their registers] at the end of the day" with the new system, he said, adding that electronic transactions are also now sent in batch reports to the chain's system.

Though customer response has been favorable to the introduction of electronic payments, Rinella said usage has varied somewhat by demographics. "It depends on the neighborhood," Rinella said. "In the more affluent, modern neighborhoods [credit and debit] are very well accepted, as much as 20% of our volume goes through the systems.

"But in the retirement areas, older generation areas, it's a much lower acceptance, probably around 5%," he added.

Rinella added that Bashas' is planning some chainwide promotions to encourage debit and credit usage beginning in November.