HEB.COM CRUISES TOWARD LAUNCH

SAN ANTONIO -- The H.E.B Grocery Co. here is gearing up for the March launch of its Internet shopping site, HEB.com, in the Austin market by running a sweepstakes giveaway of a 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser."The sweepstakes has been terrific," said Kate Brown, spokeswoman for the 275-store chain. "We have been registering about 2,000 people a week on-line at our site [for the giveaway]." The sweepstakes

SAN ANTONIO -- The H.E.B Grocery Co. here is gearing up for the March launch of its Internet shopping site, HEB.com, in the Austin market by running a sweepstakes giveaway of a 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser.

"The sweepstakes has been terrific," said Kate Brown, spokeswoman for the 275-store chain. "We have been registering about 2,000 people a week on-line at our site [for the giveaway]." The sweepstakes kicked off on Nov. 22.

"Since there is already a great deal of interest in HEB.com, we felt that providing prizes like the PT Cruiser would help build excitement for the launch," said John Sturm, director and general manager of HEB.com. The winner of the car will be announced during a ceremony on Feb. 27. The contest is open to residents of Texas only.

"We are continuing to build strong relationships with our customers by extending the quality freshness and prices we are known for to the Internet," he added.

The sweepstakes was planned to coordinate with the overall redesign of the HEB.com Web site. The redesigned site is set to be launched when the chain begins its Internet shopping pilot program at eight Austin-area stores, Brown said.

HEB officials anticipate the HEB.com Internet shopping program will be expanded to other areas. However, Brown said that at this time there is no set schedule for the rollout.

Currently, HEB.com's Web site is an information-only "brochure" site.

Under the new Web shopping program at HEB.com, customers will be able to choose from among 20,000 items that will be offered. A typical HEB brick-and-mortar store has about 35,000 items, Brown said.

"We feel our on-line shopping is just a natural extension of what we already do," Brown added. "On-line shoppers will be able to buy most of their staples and quite a variety of perishables as well."

An on-line shopper can pay for the order by credit card or electronic check. The order can be home delivered for an additional charge of $9.95 or a customer can drive to any one of the eight stores participating in the pilot and pick up their groceries, Brown said.

Customers who choose to pick up their orders at the store will be able to drive to the supermarket and park in pre-designated HEB.com spots equipped with intercoms to notify clerks in the store to bring out their order. The pre-paid order will then be delivered right to the car, Brown said.

Other aspects included in the overall redesign of the site will include putting recipes and cooking information on the Web site, an on-line coupon program and a pharmacy component where customers can enter prescription numbers and then pick up renewals at the store.