Supermarket chain Safeway is testing in-store Internet access kiosks, which offer shoppers &£1-a-go surfing sessions.
The coin-operated kiosks, in-stalled by Glasgow-based FastCom, offer users high-speed ISDN connections.
They are designed to expand the appeal of the Net to ABC cardholders, and to allow shoppers without home or work access the chance to explore the Internet at low cost. The kiosks are also designed to appeal to regular Internet users “on the hoof”.
According to FastCom sales director Gary Neill, the company is also in discussions with other supermarket chains to secure distribution in its key target of “high traffic, high value sites”.
The company has already made a number of installations at railway stations and shopping centres across the UK, and is aiming to increase its current installed kiosk base tenfold to 300 in the next year.
“There’s a large percentage of people who will never own a PC but don’t want to feel excluded from the Internet,” says Neill. Safeway is initially operating the kiosks at stores in Camden, Chippenham and Argyle.
So far Safeway (www.safeway. co.uk) has shied away from offering any form of Internet-based shopping service. But the retailer is piloting a home ordering service with IBM through its Basingstoke superstore.
The “Easi-Order” service allows customers to pre-select their weekly grocery shop remotely, and includes lists of suggested items based on data culled from the customer’s ABC loyalty card.
The system works through dedicated PalmPilots – specially designed for Safeway. The company aims to extend the Easi-Order service to other e-commerce platforms, including digital TV.