GENUARDI'S LAUNCHES NEW PRIVATE-LABEL CALLING CARDS

NORRISTOWN, Penn. -- Genuardi's Family Markets has introduced a new private-label prepaid phone card in its 33 stores located in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey.The calling cards, supplied by Cable & Wireless of Vienna, Va., became available in mid-May, said Bill Marano, category manager. The cards, activated at the cash register, are being merchandised at various in-store locations: on front-end

NORRISTOWN, Penn. -- Genuardi's Family Markets has introduced a new private-label prepaid phone card in its 33 stores located in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey.

The calling cards, supplied by Cable & Wireless of Vienna, Va., became available in mid-May, said Bill Marano, category manager. The cards, activated at the cash register, are being merchandised at various in-store locations: on front-end magazine fixtures, clip stripped in floral and video departments, on acrylic satellite displays and at service counters.

The prepaid phone cards are available in three denominations -- 25 minutes for $4.99; 50 minutes for $8.99 and 100 minutes for $15.99.

Genuardi's decided to switch from its previous private-label phone card supplier to C&W based in part upon discussions with a group of non-competitive supermarkets that meets to share information on various business issues and operations, said Marano. "This group meets several times throughout the year to compare notes and take a critical look at each other's operation," he explained. Choosing Cable & Wireless as Genuardi's phone card supplier was a natural, said Marano, because they are already servicing a member of the share group who's "operation parallels ours in demographics and merchandising style," he said.

The retailer made the switch from its previous supplier because the program it offered "wasn't a good fit for us as far and merchandising and branding," said Marano. "Therefore, we sought out a company that would be more flexible with artwork, merchandising and service," he said.

"One of the barriers to doing business as a private-label card is that many providers feel it is most important to feature their logo more prominently than we were willing. In fact, some of the companies are virtually unknown to the end user. C & W seemed a better fit as they are more willing to get creative with us," Marano explained.

Although C&W has a point-of-sale system available, Genuardi is not going with it at this time because it is not compatible with Genuardi's front-end system. However, Marano didn't rule out eventually moving to the POS program depending upon the retailer's priorities.

Marano said it's too soon to tell how sales will go, however, he's optimistic. "With additional (merchandising) space, we're expecting to increase sales dramatically," he said.

Genuardi's will support its private-label phone card program with regular advertisements, give-aways and promotional cards. "We'll have some in-store events planned, keying around specific heavy-use times like back-to-school, Mother's Day, and Valentine's Day," he said.