IGA LAUNCHES SITES

CHICAGO -- IGA here last week was scheduled to launch Web sites for all 1,203 IGA supermarkets operating in the United States and the Caribbean.Consumers will be able to access the Web sites directly through individual URLs or at the IGA Web site (www.igainc.com) via the store locator function. The sites will include basic information like interactive store location mapping, driving directions, store

CHICAGO -- IGA here last week was scheduled to launch Web sites for all 1,203 IGA supermarkets operating in the United States and the Caribbean.

Consumers will be able to access the Web sites directly through individual URLs or at the IGA Web site (www.igainc.com) via the store locator function. The sites will include basic information like interactive store location mapping, driving directions, store e-mail forms, and store hours and contact information.

Stores within a particular chain will have their own sites, noted Jason McConnell, marketing manager, 50 Below, Duluth, Minn., IGA's partner in the program.

The URL for each store will differ from that of an existing site a store or chain may have, he said, noting that multiple Web sites raises a store's profile on search engines. Stores will be able to market the Web site provided through IGA. "A Web site is like a business card," McConnell said.

"In today's world of real-time communication, IGA feels it is fundamentally critical that each store be represented on the WorldWide Web," said Bill Benzing, IGA's executive vice president and chief growth officer, in a statement. IGA was unavailable for further comment.

The IGA site, based on a single template, "is not a full-blown site, though stores have the option to upgrade," said McConnell. Upgrade features could include coupons, weekly specials, recipes and shopping lists. Online shopping is not currently available. Sites can also be made more "branded," he said.

Stores would contact 50 Below, the host of the sites, for edits, corrections or updates.

According to McDonnell, the basic IGA Web site is free to IGA members, though there will be a cost for upgrades. IGA has not paid an initial fee, but is allowing 50 Below access to members through events and other means, he said.

IGA's network includes more than 4,000 stores worldwide.