Prodigy Finds Shoppers Prefer Pushing Carts To Keys

In principle, it may have been a good idea. Instead of spending valuable time pushing a cart up and down the aisles, why not have your personal computer do your grocery shopping for you? To that end, Prodigy Services Co. has offered electronic grocery selection on its on-line information service. Subscribers would connect with Prodigy and choose from a long menu of dairy, produce, meats, and other goods sold by local grocers. After the order was placed, a clerk would comb the aisles to find the right items, which would then be delivered to the subscriber's home.

In practice, however, the idea never caught on. After years of trying to make it work, the White Plains (N. Y.) on-line service plans to announce shortly that it is canceling the feature. The reason: Even though consumer surveys indicated that on-line grocery shopping would be a welcome innovation, Prodigy says that many subscribers actually enjoy grocery shopping. Owned by IBM and Sears, Roebuck & Co., Prodigy has accepted the fact that members who are happy to buy floppy disks electronically aren't as comfortable with having strangers select their bananas.

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