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    A&P Branching Out with Online Shopping

    MONTVALE, N.J. -- The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A&P) here is moving ahead with what it sees as a viable model for online grocery shopping, the company's director of e-commerce told Progressive Grocer yesterday.

    MONTVALE, N.J. -- The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A&P) here is moving ahead with what it sees as a viable model for online grocery shopping, the company's director of e-commerce told Progressive Grocer yesterday.

    A&P launched an online ordering and delivery service for Food Emporium customers in Manhattan two years ago and, more recently, launched the same service for its Waldbaum's customers on parts of Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk counties and in Queens.

    "We're catching up in Manhattan," Heidi Chapnick, the company's director of e-commerce, said. "We came in a little late compared to some of the other services in New York, but we've found that customers are loyal to the Food Emporium brand." While she declined to share customer counts, Chapnick noted that customer retention rates have hovered at around 90 percent, which is high compared to an average 50 percent to 60 percent retention rate.

    In an innovative twist, A&P recently began working with doctors' offices on Long Island to offer customized ordering lists that doctors create for patients with weight management concerns. "The service makes shopping easier for patients," noted Chapnick. "I think this is the wave of the future."

    The company is also delivering to businesses such as law firms in Manhattan.

    A&P's fulfillment service is based on a store selection formula in which associates pick orders from its stores. Deliveries are made either by van or by van and on foot in Manhattan.

    Among A&P's unique points of differentiation vs. other e-grocers, according to Chapnick: Same-day delivery is available, and delivery is free on all orders over $40.

    While the retailer hasn't launched an aggressive marketing campaign in the greater New York area, Chapnick said A&P is looking at "doing something more targeted in the fall" as summer vacations wind down.

    --Jenny McTaggart

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