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    Albertsons Targets Delivery Business

    Supermarket retailer expands its presence in Puget Sound with additional pickup and delivery services.

    In an effort to capitalize on the shrinking number of Web grocers and customers' growing need for convenience, Albertsons.com is expanding its Seattle area presence with the addition of two fulfillment stores to its "store-pick" method of filling online grocery orders via existing brick-and-mortar stores.

    The new fulfillment stores are located in Tacoma and Marysville, bringing the total number of zip codes covered in Washington State to more than 100.

    Using the company's "store-pick" methodology, orders are selected from five stores in the greater Puget Sound area, and the online orders are routed to the closest Albertson's store and prepared based on the customer's preference for either delivery or pickup. By utilizing existing store personnel, the company is able to rapidly scale its online efforts to accommodate growth.

    "We are seeing phenomenal growth this week in our online orders," said Patrick Steele, executive vice president of information systems and technology for Albertson's Inc. "By utilizing our existing brick-and-mortar infrastructure and online technology platform, we are able to quickly add new fulfillment stores and handle the surge in business. Over the last two days, Albertsons.com has experienced an approximate 300-percent jump in orders, which we can easily fill through our store-pick methodology."

    Albertson's, which operates more than 2,500 retail stores in 36 states, is already committed to adding more fulfillment stores as necessary, Steele added.

    The Boise, Idaho-based supermarket chain launched its pickup service in the Puget Sound region in June 2000 as another convenient option for time-starved customers. Using the online ordering process, customers can order groceries whenever convenient and then stop by to pick up the order according to their own schedule.

    "We're rapidly growing our service to meet expanding customer requirements," Steele said. "We encourage previous Webvan users to try our service, and believe they will be very happy with the results. Albertson's is committed to providing a full suite of grocery innovations to our shoppers, whether it's the butcher block, deli or gas stations."

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