US Supemarket Chain ships Taste of home Overseas
Saturday, September 24 2005 @ 09:28 PM EDT
Contributed by: Anonymous
ARTICLE from www.jounalnow.com -BUSINESS Section-September 24,2005
Supermarket chain sends products overseas for taste of home abroad
By Fran Daniel
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Lowes Foods has found a small niche in international orders for customers wanting a taste of home.
A number of customers are having the supermarket chain, based in Winston-Salem, ship products overseas, spokeswoman Dianne Blancato said Thursday.
"It's been pretty successful," Blancato said. "We are sending those products which typically have a longer shelf life."
The service is part of the Lowes Foods To Go program, through which customers order groceries over the Internet and personal shoppers do their grocery shopping. Lowes Foods To Go is offered in about 40 stores.
Food Lion LLC and Harris Teeter Inc., two of Lowes Foods major competitors, offer online shopping but do not ship to customers overseas.
Lowes Foods has been handling international orders since March 2004.
It all started when a female customer moved from Sanford to Zimbabwe.
"After moving there, she contacted the store to see if she could have products shipped to her," Blancato said. "We did a little research, and we discovered we could ship packages to a mail-sorting facility in Virginia. From there, they are sent to the country in which the customer resides."
The majority of the overseas customers work for the federal government, and they live in extremely remote areas.
"What they're looking for is a taste of home," Blancato said.
Pet food and toiletries are the top items that people order. Other products typically sent overseas include cereal, pie crusts, tomato sauce, pasta, ice-cream cones and snack foods.
Most of Lowes Foods' overseas customers are in Niger, but it has shipped orders to Malawi, Gabon and China.
Customers pay for the shipping to Virginia, which can cost from $10 to $25, depending on the number of packages. The time for products to reach their destinations varies from two weeks to up to a month during the holidays.
Initially, Lowes Foods would not send perishable products. But because of so many requests from customers, it is now shipping breads and bagels.
Blancato said that total Lowes Foods To Go sales are growing, but they are still a small percentage of the company's overall business.
All overseas orders come through the company's store at Reynolda Manor Shopping Center.
Blancato declined to give exact figures, but said that Lowes Foods To Go sales at the Reynolda store have increased by 20 percent because of the international orders.
"We have actually doubled the number of international customers we're serving this year compared to last year," she said.
Kenneth Herbst, an assistant professor of marketing at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., said that ownership of a niche could be a significant contributor to a company's bottom line.
"Developing a niche is not always about being small," Herbst said. "It is about being special for a segment of the population and being the place or person to whom a subset of the population turns to fulfill their needs.
"In business, it is wonderful to be first in a category and first to develop a niche," he said. "Being responsive to differing customer needs is one way to build satisfaction and, hopefully, loyalty."
This story can be found at: http://www.wsjournal.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=WSJ%2FMGArticle%2FWSJ_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1031785248659&path=!business!article&s=1037645507703
How to access Lowes supermarket online and this service:
Click on SHOP NOW
LOWES Food to GO
Under Winston Salem shops: see (Services Overseas……..)