PEAPOD TO PERSONALIZE WEB PAGES

SKOKIE, Ill. -- Frequent-shopper discounts, targeted promotions and the ability to develop personalized pages are some of the upgrades Peapod, here, is looking into when its Web site relaunches later this year in an effort to stand out in the increasingly crowded field of on-line shopping services."We'll relaunch the site late in the third quarter or early fourth quarter, with an eye toward customizing

SKOKIE, Ill. -- Frequent-shopper discounts, targeted promotions and the ability to develop personalized pages are some of the upgrades Peapod, here, is looking into when its Web site relaunches later this year in an effort to stand out in the increasingly crowded field of on-line shopping services.

"We'll relaunch the site late in the third quarter or early fourth quarter, with an eye toward customizing the view of the site and promotions for individual users," said Tim Franklin, director of electronic commerce development for Peapod. "We're very focused on our relationship with customers," he said.

He said the personalization feature would not be immediately available when the new site is launched, but will be phased in over the several months following the rollout of the new site. Initially, the relaunch will be done to accommodate Peapod's introduction of a new national service that will allow customers to order nonperishable grocery and health and beauty items for delivery anywhere in the country.

For example, a shopper who does not own a pet would not have pet food products as part of a customized view when signing on to the site.

In addition, shoppers would be targeted with promotions based on their buying habits. "We haven't determined how that will be done yet, but it will most likely be done through e-mail. We're not in the habit of putting something in the way of the shopper," he said.

Peapod's site revamp comes at a time when Peapod is facing competition from on-line services such as NetGrocer.com, the Bellevue, Wash.-based service that recently received a $42.5 million investment from Amazon.com., and new services such as Webvan, Foster City, Calif., which was launched earlier this year by Louis Borders, a co-founder of Borders Books.

The enhancements to the site, including the personalization and targeted promotions, will be done using software from Art Technology Group, Boston.

While retailers such as Nob Hill Foods, Gilroy, Calif., and Wild Oats Markets, Boulder, Colo., have recently discontinued their frequent-shopper cards due in part to privacy issues, Franklin said users who order products over the Internet are, in general, already more willing to share information.

Peapod does share data with consumer-goods companies, Franklin said, but does not share individual names with outside companies.

In addition, customers of on-line services have to provide minimal information, such as names and addresses, to have their orders delivered.

He said the initial targeted promotions will most likely be based on purchase data in Peapod's database, and the company may further refine the targeted promotions through confidential customer surveys.

He noted that while these users are willing to share information, they expect improved convenience in return, such as the ability to view only the categories of products they are interested in purchasing. "We want this information to enhance the customer experience on the site," he said.