WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — High chairs, strollers and other baby items join Hy-Vee's growing assortment of products available online.
It's all part of Hy-Vee Baby, a new e-commerce site where about 20 different items are currently available. Retails range from $18 for a booster seat to $179 for a stroller travel system.
Orders are shipped within five to seven days by an unidentified third party to a local Hy-Vee store of the buyer's choice.
“When your item arrives, your local Hy-Vee will contact you to arrange pickup,” according to Hy-Vee.
A Hy-Vee spokeswoman was unavailable for comment.
Along with merchandise, Hy-Vee Baby offers age-appropriate content for newborns, infants and toddlers, provided by Kimberly-Clark's Huggies brand. Articles cover such topics as “Top 5 Picks for Baby's First Toys,” and “Toddler Proofing.”
There's also a link to huggiesbabynetwork.com, where visitors can get pregnancy news and baby advice. Kimberly-Clark was unavailable for comment.
The site is the latest way Hy-Vee is reaching out to the lucrative young parent demographic online. The retailer also offers online banking and bill-paying, as well as online grocery shopping at select stores.
With Hy-Vee Baby, the retailer joins a growing number of food stores targeting parents online. Just last month, for instance, Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Lowes Foods kicked off MyBaby, a networking website. MyBaby operates along the lines of MySpace.com by letting users share stories, tips, blogs, photos and videos.
Hy-Vee's and Lowes' efforts demonstrate how retailers are increasingly connecting with their target shoppers via the Internet, said Jon Hauptman, vice president of Willard Bishop, Barrington, Ill. What's more, retailers are doing so by addressing issues that are important to young parents, he said.
Such efforts are needed at a time when retailers are battling Wal-Mart and other price-oriented competitors. Since it's difficult to beat Wal-Mart's prices, retailers are surviving by differentiating themselves in the market.
While baby clubs that reward shoppers based on baby-related spending are valuable, the Hy-Vee and Lowes initiatives show that retailers are taking their marketing efforts to the next level, Hauptman said.
“A great way to differentiate is not only through product offering, but also services and solutions,” he told SN. “Supermarkets can be a destination for information.”
But loyalty marketing consultant Glenn Hausfater questions whether food retailers can successfully position themselves as an authoritative source for parenting tips.
While a mother may read, say, a child-proofing article at Hy-Vee Baby, Hausfater said, the question is, will she value it and remember that it came from Hy-Vee?
“Of all the places to get parenting information, I don't know if supermarkets rank very high,” said Hausfater, managing director of Partners in Loyalty Marketing, Chicago.