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    NONFOODS: Video: A new main attraction

    Stop & Shop and Giant Food are automating DVD rentals at every store.

    Ahold's Stop & Shop and Giant Food stores are going after the big-box retailers with a box of their own -- Redbox, that is. Redbox Automated Retail, LLC is an Oak Brook, Ill.-based provider of automated DVD rental kiosks. Following a successful pilot at a select number of stores, Stop & Shop and Giant plan to offer Redbox's automated DVD rental kiosks at all of their units.

    "We piloted the units at seven stores in Giant for nearly two years, and five stores in Stop & Shop for about one year," says Stop & Shop spokesman Robert Keane. "They were very successful. Year-over-year growth in Giant is strong, and Stop & Shop stores are performing similar to Giant in the first year."

    The Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover group will begin installing the DVD rental kiosks in March 2006, and the plan is to have the automated DVD machines up and running in 80 percent of their locations, amounting to more than 400 supermarkets combined, by June.

    According to Keane, Stop & Shop and Giant sought the kiosks to create a point of differentiation from competitors, as well as to drive an increase in return trips of shoppers who are also DVD viewers.

    One-stop shopping

    "Redbox allows Stop & Shop to expand its 'one-stop shopping' concept to our customers, something we've been doing since 1982, with the opening of our first Super Stop & Shop," explains Keane. "We had a full-blown VHS rental program in the mid-1990s, but that's no longer in existence."

    Each automated DVD rental kiosk holds over 500 DVDs, with new titles available every Tuesday. Shoppers use a touchscreen to make movie selections; then, after they swipe a valid credit or debit card, the kiosk dispenses the selected DVDs.

    The Stop & Shop/Giant program lets customers keep the DVDs for as long as they'd like for $1 per night plus tax, and then return their DVDs to any Redbox kiosk nationwide, even if it's outside the chains' network. Redbox kiosks are currently in over 800 locations, including McDonald's restaurants, other supermarket chains, and office buildings.

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