Thursday, July 9, 1998 Published at 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
Business: The Company File
Click and pick
Staff can choose their shopping from the comfort of their desks
Help may soon be at hand for those who have faced the horror of a crowded supermarket at the end of a gruelling working day.
The supermarket chain Waitrose is introducing a workplace shopping service which allows busy workers to order their groceries from the comfort of their desks.
Waitrose has been operating the scheme, at information technology company ICL in Reading for almost a year.
It has now been expanded to include 3,500 British Airways employees and plans are in the pipeline for more companies to join in.
Microsoft, BT and Nationwide have also expressed an interest.
The service is linked to companies' intranets - the information systems which companies use to communicate with their workforce and vice versa.
Shop till you drop
Staff who want to use the service choose an option on their computer which brings up a full range of the food on offer which is charged at normal prices.
Customers are even able to specify if they want green or yellow bananas or would prefer milk with at least five days `best before' life.
He says the company is now talking to a "significant" number of prospective customers.
Waitrose say the benefits of the system include shoppers' ability to store regular shopping lists on computer.
One ICL customer, Sandra Stewart, said the scheme had proved invaluable.
"If my family call me for something they want that evening, I can take it home with me without having had to leave my desk during the day."
Sandra added: "Payment is easy too - I simply use my chargecard and the bill comes to me at the end of the month in the usual way."
Business technology battle
This is the latest of a long line of breakthroughs in supermarket giants' use of computer technology to introduce new services to customers.
Last month Asda announced a home shopping project for the South East of England, with plans to sell by catalogue and the Internet in an area where it has little or no market share.
Tesco took an early lead in the battle to bring home shopping to the world of supermarkets
It announced a service throughout Greater London under which customers can order by phone, fax or the Internet for a £5 delivery charge.
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