WHAT'S IN STORE?

What kind of year has it been so far? It's a good time to take stock, considering the Food Marketing Institute convention takes place in Chicago this week.Electronic marketing is increasing steadily. We're approaching 40% penetration nationwide, which should be enough for "critical mass," or the point at which manufacturers can shift brand dollars from mass marketing to in-store programs. Markets

What kind of year has it been so far? It's a good time to take stock, considering the Food Marketing Institute convention takes place in Chicago this week.

Electronic marketing is increasing steadily. We're approaching 40% penetration nationwide, which should be enough for "critical mass," or the point at which manufacturers can shift brand dollars from mass marketing to in-store programs. Markets like the greater New York metropolitan area are already in this position. There has been growth in terms of the electronic marketing vendors. Catalina Marketing's Checkout Coupon program is now installed in 7,400 supermarkets. DCI Cardmarketing supports over 800 stores with a data base, cards, data base updates and mailings. Advanced Promotion Technologies is in 100 stores, with many more committed for the remainder of 1994. Moore Retail Services and Market Imaging also continue to support frequency programs at retail. Videocart, as we all know, filed Chapter 11, but I still think we'll see the Videocart technology re-emerge in another form, or with another company.

Significant progress has been made toward electronic clearing of coupons this year. The Joint Industry Coupon Committee approved two new codes -- an EAN-99 Code for use on in-store distributed coupons (so retailer systems can be coded not to double these coupons), and an extended UPC/EAN 128 code that can contain a number system, offer code, expiration date and even household code. Three vendors (Catalina, Comark and APT) have coupon readers, and once the standards are distributed to the industry, scanning systems vendors will be changing their software and hardware to read the new codes. A total of 6,300 stores are scanning coupons now -- over 2,000 of them at the family code level.

Progress is being made with home shopping. Peapod in Evanston, Ill., now has 5,000 home shoppers in Chicago and 2,000 in San Francisco. They will be expanding further in Chicago this year, and Silicon Valley will be opened in another two months. Shoppers Express operates in over 38 states, and recently hooked up with Time Warner Cable and ShopperVision to test an interactive television home shopping system with Winn-Dixie and Eckerd Drug Co. A coupon processor called AccuTrak just announced a machine that will print coupons and sports tickets on a device in the home, tied in and triggered by cable TV advertising.

Efficient Consumer Response is progressing. The industry is focused on the eventual goal of reducing inventory and paper in the system, with heavy emphasis right now on EDI (electronic data interchange) and the quality of scanner data.

The coming years will be extremely interesting. We are all involved with a lot of "on the edge" technology, and things that are happening as we speak. I, for one, enjoy the feeling. Have a great FMI. Hope to see you there.

Carlene A. Thissen is president of Retail Systems Consulting, Chicago.