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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.


[ image: Customers can order anything from prawns to green bananas]
Customers can order anything from prawns to green bananas
It means that the cornflakes, crispy duck, orange juice or other vital items they have run out of will be delivered to their firm's premises, ready for them to take home.

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.


[ image: Just click and pick]
Just click and pick
David Feldwick, the supermarket chain's managing director, said: "Waitrose prides itself on its innovative approach to food retailing and we are delighted to have been able, with ICL, to have developed the world's first fully operational workplace shopping system."

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.


Waitrose marketing director Mark Price: "A lot of companies are a long way from the supermarket."
"I'm a working mother so I've found the service very useful. Waitrose's full product range is available and my orders can be delivered at lunchtime or the end of the day - whichever I prefer.

"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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