Contact: Marie L. McGeehan at Casey Communications, Inc., 314/962-0944, or Dee Wetzel at Schnuck Markets, Inc., 314/994-4608.

April 22, 1998

Schnucks Helps Champaign-Urbana Customers Save Time With Schnucks Express Connection On-line Shopping Service

CHAMPAIGN -- Schnuck Markets, Inc. will help make Champaign-Urbana area customers' lives a little easier by saving time shopping at the grocery store with the debut of Schnucks Express Connection April 27.

Schnucks Express Connection is the area's first full-scope, on-line grocery shopping service. The service allows customers to select and arrange for direct home delivery or store pick-up of more than 15,000 products available at their neighborhood Schnucks. Residents of Champaign and Urbana will gain access to the area's first full-scope, on-line grocery shopping service. Delivery is available in zip codes 61801, 61802, 61820, 61821, 61853 and 61874. The area includes more than 48,000 households with a population of nearly 131,000 residents.

Customers from any Champaign- and Urbana-area zip code can place orders to be picked up at the Schnucks located at 109 N. Mattis Rd. in Champaign or the Schnucks located at 200 N. Vine St. in Urbana.

"We are very excited to expand our on-line grocery shopping service in Illinois and to introduce delivery and pick-up service to customers in Champaign and Urbana," said Scott C. Schnuck, president and chief operating officer of Schnucks. "Customers love the time-saving convenience of shopping from home."

Schnucks is offering Schnucks Express Connection to relieve time pressures on busy people and provide help to shoppers who cannot easily make a trip to the store. "Research shows that about three out of four on-line shoppers are women and most are between 25 and 50 years old. About half of all on-line shoppers have children under 18 years old and even more work in management positions," said Schnuck. "These are very busy people. We want to offer another level of service to make our customers' lives a little easier."

On-line shopping for groceries is expected to explode in the coming years. "Experts predict that somewhere between three percent and 15 percent of grocery shopping will be done on-line within three years. Since today's sales in the nation's grocery industry total about $300 billion, that tells us the demand potential for this on-line service could be extremely large," said Schnuck.

Schnucks Express Connection offers first-time users a step-by-step guide to placing an order. The "Frequently Asked Questions" section answers many of the most popular questions customers have when using the service. "We have heard from customers that they appreciate these detailed guides. They tell us that each time they go back to the site, their shopping trip' is faster since they know the system," said Schnuck.

After signing in, customers will be instructed to designate whether they prefer home delivery or store pick-up.

Home Delivery

Customers can select from delivery times of 10 a.m. to noon and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday or between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Sunday. Orders can be delivered the same day if placed by 11 a.m. or the next morning if ordered by 7 p.m. Schnucks Express Connection same-day delivery costs $12.95. Next-day delivery costs $9.95.

On-line shoppers can pay with credit card when ordering or by check upon delivery. Schnucks uses the latest encryption technology to ensure personal information, such as a credit card number, is not intercepted by a third party. Schnucks delivery staff will wear Schnucks Express Connection shirts for easy identification.

Pick-Up Service

Schnucks Express Connection store pick-up costs $5.95. Orders can be picked up between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Orders will be taken until 1 p.m. for pick up the same evening. Pick- up service is available Monday through Sunday. Orders are rung out in advance of pick up so customers only have to go to the Courtesy Center to pay and pick up their order.

Customers visiting the on-line Schnucks will find their favorite products in the same department as at their neighborhood Schnucks. For example, an on-line shopper will visit the dairy department to order milk.

Since introducing its on-line grocery shopping service, Schnucks has added several features suggested by users to make the service easier and quicker to use. A "Search" function helps customers find build a "favorites" list as they shop. Most product listings include a full- color product photo to facilitate selection.

Schnucks' experience with home shopping and delivery dates to 1990 when it offered customers access to a computer-based shopping system developed by Prodigy. While Prodigy stopped offering the service in 1991, the experience encouraged Schnucks to begin evaluating computer-based shopping alternatives.

"The leading category of user for Schnucks Express Connection are members of two- income households stretched for time," said Schnuck. "Senior citizens also use the service a lot. That number would probably be higher if more seniors had computers."

Schnuck said he has been pleased with the number of customers using the service. "We have had enthusiastic reception of Express Connection and are seeing continued growth in use. Best of all, we believe we are helping many of our customers ease time management stress and transportation dilemmas," said Schnuck.

Schnucks Express Connection was first introduced as Home Shopping Club in June 1997 to customers in St. Louis, where Schnucks headquarters is located. "We changed the name to reflect the time-saving benefits of shopping on-line," said Larry Maggio, director of marketing services.

On-line shopping is the latest addition to the Schnucks home page, launched in May 1996. Since then, thousands of Internet users have visited the home page each month, including hundreds of shoppers making floral purchases. The Schnucks home page was selected from 10,000 sites as one of the Top 100 Web sites by Computerworld, a leading computer technology journal.

In addition to Schnucks Express Connection, the Schnucks home page offers other features, including:

  • Recipe link for customers to sort through thousands of recipes by category or nutritional content;
  • Directory of Schnucks stores by geographic location and services provided;
  • E-mail link to Schnucks' consumer affairs department for easy communication of questions or comments about Schnucks' products and services;
  • Place floral orders for delivery locally or anywhere in the world; and
  • Preview ready-to-eat fresh foods, including party platters, deli items, sandwiches and custom cakes.

    Schnuck Markets, Inc. currently operates 89 stores in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. The family-owned company was founded in St. Louis in 1939.