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NZ supermarket Countdown celebrates 20 years selling online

Countdown is celebrating 20 years since the New Zealand supermarket dipped its toes into the world of online shopping.

Developed in the days before web browsers, in 1996 Countdown sent 100 customers more than a dozen floppy disks containing the online shopping program that connected, via dial-up internet, to a central server containing product and price details. The shopping process was laborious, with each item taking around 30 to 45 seconds to load and the average shop taking over an hour.

The original 1996 customers paid by submitting a direct debit form and ID via fax, before the order was faxed to the store where two specially trained personal shoppers packed the groceries to be delivered to the customers’ doorsteps.

Today Countdown processes 20,000 online orders every week and more than 80,000 Kiwis are regular online shoppers with the supermarket.

To mark the anniversary, Countdown is partnering with Samsung to show off the South Korean brand’s Family Hub Refrigerator, a wi-fi enabled fridge that allows shoppers to order groceries from their kitchen.

Sally Copland, Countdown’s new head of online, said the online shopping experience has come a long way from dial-up days and the business continues to innovate and improve on the service.

“We pushed the boundaries in 1996 when we started with 100 online trial customers, and we’re continuing to push boundaries and innovate in the online shopping space today for the same reason, to make things easy for Kiwis,” said Copland.

“With the introduction of services such as click & collect in every Countdown store nationwide and the future of online shopping with collaborations like the new Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator, we continue to lead and improve the online shopping experience for New Zealanders.”

“We’re really proud to have introduced New Zealand to online supermarket shopping, and to grow it to what it is today,” said Copland. “It’s hard to believe that online shopping was developed at a time when the internet itself was in its infancy.  This required incredible foresight and commitment by our team 20 years ago, as well as the confidence of Kiwi shoppers who placed their trust in Countdown to pick, pack and deliver fresh, quality products to their homes,” she said.

Countdown will be showcasing the Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator at select locations in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch over the next month, including the Auckland Food Show.

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