SCARBOROUGH, Maine -- Hannaford Bros. here rolled out its first prepaid phone card to all 150 stores in November.
The rollout follows a six-month 30-store pilot effort that had a positive sales effect, said Mike St. Clair, general merchandise category manager.
Hannaford prices its vendor phone card, which is supplied by Atcall, Vienna, Va., at $4.99 for 20 minutes, $9.99 for 40 minutes and $19.99 for 80 minutes.
The chain's calling cards are offered at everyday low prices rather than in a high-low promotional approach.
"We treat phone cards like a can of peas at very competitive pricing. When you're EDLP like we are, you don't do any sales price slashing," said St. Clair.
The 25-cents-a-minute rate "is as competitive as anyone out there," said St. Clair. "Over the long haul we think our program works the best compared to a high-low operator."
In the test phase, sales of the calling cards ranged from fair to very good. "We had some very good results in pockets. They did quite well in college towns, and there were no stores that failed to sell any," St. Clair said.
The calling cards often moved well at the test outlets despite the lack of any sales hype or advertising. "We didn't back the cards up with any glitter," St. Clair noted.
The live cards are sold at a customer-service center and are highlighted by window and door decals and signs. A showcase by the service center displays several sample cards for customers to examine before they make a purchase.
Hannaford waited to launch its phone card until it was certain it had the right program. "We stepped into this really slowly because this is something brand new and that wasn't our core business," commented St. Clair.
He said a key factor in choosing Atcall was that stores weren't required to carry deep inventory.
"We're able to get orders shipped to stores in three to four days, and each store orders according to its needs."