BIG Y USES POS DATA TO AWARD SCHOOL GEAR

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Big Y Foods here wrapped up a two-year fund-raising program using point-of-sale data to award $1.7 million in equipment to area schools.Under the program, a software package allowed store registers to record the point value of each eligible product purchased by participating customers. The software program, Education Express, was designed to replace inefficient fund-raising methods,

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Big Y Foods here wrapped up a two-year fund-raising program using point-of-sale data to award $1.7 million in equipment to area schools.

Under the program, a software package allowed store registers to record the point value of each eligible product purchased by participating customers. The software program, Education Express, was designed to replace inefficient fund-raising methods, Big Y spokeswoman Claire D'Amour said. The retailer has run previous school fund-raisers, in which customers had been required to collect register receipts and send them to Big Y stores. Employees had to count and sort thousands of tapes.

"In replacing a strict save-a-tape program, we allowed customers to accrue points electronically by using our electronic shopper card, the Express Savings Club card," D'Amour said. Customers enrolled in the fund-raiser, which began in January 1993, had their frequent shopper card number linked to the account number of a specific school, "so we knew what school that cardholder wanted their purchases to be saved up for," D'Amour said.

In another twist, the Education Express program counted only certain products toward award totals. "It wasn't necessarily the total purchase but certain product purchases had points attached to them," D'Amour said.

Big Y negotiated with manufacturers to determine which products would be included. Items involved in the program saw increased sales, D'Amour said. She was not able to cite specific sales figures.

Results of the fund-raiser, which ended with the 1993-94 school year, are currently being evaluated by Big Y.