RealTime IT News

And Baby Makes Three

Internet retailer and delivery service Webvan Group Inc., in a move to make its retail site more family focused, added areas for people shopping for babies and kids, or the parents of same.

At the new "Baby Shop," consumers can find products ranging from organic baby foods, including Earth's Best and Gerber Tender Harvest, to selection of infant products and diapers.

The "Kids' Store" is a one-stop shop that features lunchbox favorites, healthy snacks, entertaining books and videos, clothing and games.

"Parents' Corner" is a shopping solution and information resource for moms and dads. From diapering and baby feeding tips to shopping for school supplies and packing the perfect lunch, Parents' Corner serves as a resource to streamline day-to-day tasks and "to do" lists.

Content includes information from pediatricians and child-care specialists designed to help educate parents in areas such as child rearing, pregnancy, healthy living and childbirth.

"Webvan is freeing consumers from the 20th-century confines of the brick-and-mortar stores," said George T. Shaheen, president and chief executive officer of Webvan. "We are putting consumers in control, offering them a total shopping experience that mirrors their thought processes "

Webvan has been struggling in the market to say the least, and its stock is currently trading in the $4 range, with a 52-week high of $34. Nevertheless, Salomon Smith Barney recently launched coverage of the stock with a "neutral" rating but flagged as a "speculative'" risk.

Earlier this month, Webvan said it had received government approval to proceed with its acquisition of HomeGrocer.com for $1.2 billion in stock. The deal awaits shareholder approval from both companies.

Webvan said its plans include introduction of even more shopping categories, including a beauty and spa category that will include products such as Burt's Bees all-natural body, facial and bath items, Le Petit Marseillais bath products from France and Zia skincare products. Current shopping categories include groceries, pet supplies, books, a florist and electronics, among others.

Webvan promises its customers "can have everything from electronics to produce to beauty supplies delivered to their door in the 30-minute window of their choice" in the company's own vans. It currently serves San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago and the Sacramento, CA area.