SHOPKO’S WEB SITE: GIVING IT ALL AWAY
Byline: Denise Zimmerman
NEW YORK — On ShopKo Stores’ new World Wide Web site, information comes first and selling comes second — at least for now.
ShopKo officials contend that the site, http:www.shopko.com, provides public information in a manner that’s more dynamic and interactive compared to most other retailers’ Web sites.
Launched Aug. 22, the site does sell some merchandise bearing the Green Bay Packers logo, though electronic commerce capability is currently only a small part of the initiative. The primary objective is communications, and ShopKo says it plans to respond rapidly to visitors’ requests and inquiries.
“Our goal is to make sure we service the site, freshen it on a regular basis and that we respond to requests within hours,” said Terry McDonald, senior vice president of marketing.
Among the areas often visited on the site are the financial pages. ShopKo has designated an investor relations staff member to handle requests for annual reports and other information.
McDonald said the June repurchase of common stock owned by Supervalu, based in Eden Prairie, Minn., stirred many inquiries from the investment community. Prior to its 1991 initial public offering, ShopKo was a wholly owned subsidiary of Supervalu, the nation’s largest food wholesaler, with annual sales of $16.6 billion.
“We were getting a lot of calls for information so it was important to get the site up, largely to communicate to people interested in ShopKo for investment reasons,” McDonald said.
ShopKo’s job postings and customer service portions of the site are also designed to be interactive and the company assigned two human resource officials to handle customer comments and job applications transmitted via electronic mail.
The Web site’s ShopKo Packers Store, which offers a dozen products carrying the football team’s logo, is in a test stage, but is expected to provide revenue and new information on selling on line. In March, ShopKo began offering one Packers product — a compact disc of popular sports music and Packer radio broadcasts — via another company’s Web page. To date, about 1,000 orders from 42 states and nine countries have been taken.
“That gave us a great feeling of confidence that even though it is a very tiny piece of business, it has the potential to be big, so we expanded from one to 12 items and will test that through the football season,” McDonald said. “We’ll watch it and see what happens. We have no idea what to expect.”
The 12 items for sale on the page range from Super Bowl videotapes to Packers umbrellas, golf putters and watches. ShopKo sells Green Bay Packers merchandise in 45 of its 130 stores, located in 16 states primarily in the upper Midwest, Western Mountain and Pacific Northwest regions. The $2.3 billion discounter is based in Green Bay, Wis.
ShopKo’s Web site was developed internally, after reviewing efforts by other retailers. McDonald said it became clear what works and what doesn’t. He cautioned against jumping into the Web waters without a well-conceived plan.
“We’ve learned a lot of things, such as, if you can’t do your site well the first time, don’t do it. And secondly, it must be interactive,” he said. “We’ve set a goal to change the site. We will run it six months as is and at the minimum, change the graphics at that time.”
He noted, “Some of the department store and some of the better department store group sites were very flat in their graphics and information initially. Some of the top national discounters, however, looked terrific and the best sites were from companies such as Warner Bros., which are not traditional retailers but have wonderful sites that catch your eye and keep you focused,” he said, adding, “People will not continue to hit it if it looks stale.”
McDonald also said the ShopKo Web site is designed for people “who may not have a lot of time on their hands.”