SOBEYS TO INSTALL INTERACTIVE KIOSKS

STELLARTON, Nova Scotia -- Sobeys here said it plans to install in its Quebec division stores kiosks linking its shoppers to its IGA Cybermarket on-line shopping service.About 152 IGA stores in the 238-store division of Sobeys Inc., already offer on-line shopping, with both pick-up and delivery.Although permanent kiosks to link up to the Web service have been sidelined until shopper awareness is heightened,

STELLARTON, Nova Scotia -- Sobeys here said it plans to install in its Quebec division stores kiosks linking its shoppers to its IGA Cybermarket on-line shopping service.

About 152 IGA stores in the 238-store division of Sobeys Inc., already offer on-line shopping, with both pick-up and delivery.

Although permanent kiosks to link up to the Web service have been sidelined until shopper awareness is heightened, Sobeys representatives are traveling with two kiosks from store to store to educate both employees and shoppers about Cybermarket. A cell phone attached to the kiosk links shoppers to the Net.

The traveling kiosks are one of the ways Sobeys Quebec is trying to get the word out about Cybermarket, after officially launching the service in September. The retailer started testing the service in 10 stores in 1996, but waited for the final launch to gain customer feedback and ensure the system would work. "We had to test technology, logistics and service to be 'just in time' each time," said Josee Bedard, a spokeswoman for Sobeys Quebec.

About 1,500 shoppers use the service at www.iga.net "periodically," and Sobeys Quebec expects to double on-line sales both this year and next. "Our annual sales are very satisfactory," said Alain Dumas, director of Cybermarket.

The site also effectively promotes Sobeys customer loyalty program: shoppers can redeem points for free airline miles (some stores offer one air mile for every $20 spent) when they pick up their orders. Most on-line customers -- 75% -- want their orders delivered. "There are not real challenges with delivery because IGA retailers have been offering [delivery] for many years," Dumas said.

Cybermarket is promoted in store flyers and posters, as well as on-line and off-line ads. Daily newspapers are the main off-line advertising placement and on-line ads are typically placed on Canadian general information and lifestyle sites, such as Simpatico and Coyr.

Sobeys Quebec is studying additions to the Cybermarket service, including customer requests for video rentals and dry cleaning.