Hawaii grocers dip toes into Web 2.0


POSTED: Wednesday, April 15, 2009

» Safeway (www.safeway.com/IFL/Grocery/Home): Although Safeway is one of the dominant supermarket chains in Hawaii, it is a mainland-based business and closely allied with other mainland chains, such as Vons and Genuardi's. They all share the same online layout and engines; the only difference is the store name up in the corner. This commonality of purpose, however, has created a robust and useful Web site that is probably the best we've seen, offering full interactivity and features. After registering, you can create personalized shopping lists, print coupons—with a downloaded printer attachment—receive e-mail updates on sales, keep track of your shopping history, note your savings and even download electronic coupons onto your Safeway card. Some deals are not available in Hawaii, however, like free home delivery.

» Times (timessupermarkets.com): A cheerful site larded with smiling faces, but the weekly circulars aren't interactive and have to be printed out. (And they don't fit on a single sheet.) That hassle is alleviated by refreshed pages of selectable coupons that can be printed to order, plus the option of receiving e-mail updates and coupon alerts.

» Star Markets (www.star-markets.com): A pretty passive site, allowing only printable PDFs of the weekly circulars.

» Whole Foods (www.wholefoodsmarket.com): A little disappointing in its limited outreach. You can download a multipage PDF with some coupons, get notification of “;sure deals”; discounts and e-mail newsletters, but when you click on the VALUES button, there's just a little lecture about how organic they are. One bright spot: Products can be commented upon and rated by readers.

» Pukalani Superette, Maui (www.pukalanisuperette.com): “;Superette”; is a word only used in Hawaii and New England. This Maui landmark's site has PDFs of grocery ads, and previews of weekly specials called “;Hot Deals.”;

» Wal-Mart (www.walmart.com): The national site can create “;local ads,”; plus e-mail updates and discounts, and—ahead of any other chain—offer Twitter alerts of upcoming sales.

» Kmart and Sears (www.kmart.com, www.sears.com): Interlinked companies with similar Web sites, they offer localized circular ads that can create shopping lists, but the sales are national in nature.

» 7-Eleven, ABC Stores, Sam's Club and Costco: All have online presences, although they aren't much help at creating localized customer savings.