SMART & FINAL INTERNET SITE TIGHTENS ITS VENDOR LINKS

VERNON, Calif. -- Smart & Final here has stepped up vendor communications through World Wide Web pages created exclusively for the 250 manufacturers enrolled in its Smart Alliance 2000 partnership program.The retailer's newly launched Internet home site (http:// www.smartnfinal.com), which also has pages geared for consumers, serves as the gateway to company information available to authorized Smart

VERNON, Calif. -- Smart & Final here has stepped up vendor communications through World Wide Web pages created exclusively for the 250 manufacturers enrolled in its Smart Alliance 2000 partnership program.

The retailer's newly launched Internet home site (http:// www.smartnfinal.com), which also has pages geared for consumers, serves as the gateway to company information available to authorized Smart Alliance 2000 members. Vendors can, for example, obtain real-time updates on their membership benefits.

The Smart Alliance 2000 program entitles dues-paying members to a frequent level of communication with Smart & Final officials and a greater voice in upcoming promotions, said Lisa Van Velthuyzen, manager of corporate relations.

Participating in the program "really allows a vendor to become more intimately involved with Smart & Final's future," she said. "They're a true partner, rather than having just a [typical] vendor-customer relationship."

Smart & Final classifies vendor partners into four classes based on their fees, ranging from "platinum" members to "bronze." Each vendor class can access its own login site, which requires a password, through Smart & Final's main Web page.

Platinum-level members, for example, are guaranteed a conference call each quarter with Roger Laverty 3rd, Smart & Final's chief executive officer and president. By accessing the "platinum" login site on the Web page, vendors can access transcripts from previous conference calls and schedules for upcoming conference calls, Van Velthuyzen said.

The unique nature of Smart & Final's business, which caters to professional food-service operations as well as consumers, will enable the chain to conduct a variety of promotions on its Web page, she added.

"In the near future we plan to add links that will be useful to our customers, especially small business information," Van Velthuyzen said.

To target consumers, the retailer will soon begin printing its Web address on store register tapes and shopping bags. Smart & Final will further encourage consumer participation by issuing a $5 gift certificate to the page's first 1,500 visitors.