Odyssey Technology, Inc., which partners with retailers to greatly enhance their capacity for customer service, today announced a joint technology and marketing initiative with Food Markets Northwest, Inc. (FMNW), an upscale grocer serving Seattle and Tacoma in the Puget Sound area.

Odyssey will supply FMNW with a turnkey e-commerce solution, including wireless devices with support technology and network integration, fulfillment tools and roundtrip customer interaction. The system, called Thriftway iOn, interfaces seamlessly with stores' existing databases, providing vastly expanded services to the consumer, the grocer, manufacturers and national brands.

According to Terry Halverson, President and CEO of FMNW; "We have held discussions with a number of technology providers. Odyssey is the first of these that returns value to our company in proportion to the value that we provide."

Bert Hambleton, President of Hambleton Resources, a marketing strategy development company working primarily with retailers, said: "As I have monitored the emergence of this class of services, I am impressed that this is a model that will have a positive impact on the metrics that are of primary concern to the retailer, i.e. revenue and market share."

The consumer accesses the features and benefits of iOn services either directly through the Internet or in conjunction with the Thriftway iOn Shopper(TM), a handheld device similar in design and appearance to popular PDAs, but with a look and feel completely customized for the consumer. In addition to saving time in the selection and ordering process, the shopper has the ability to plan and assemble meals over any span of time; to access recipes and add their ingredients automatically to shopping lists; and to receive savings on other local products and services.

Shoppers have great flexibility in how they utilize the Thriftway iOn service. One option is having complete orders assembled in the store for later pickup. Because many shoppers like to select their own produce and other perishables, a second option is to pre-order some products and have them assembled at the store while shopping in person for those items they prefer to select. Either way the objectives of the shopper and of the store are met.

"The goal is to so enhance the value of encounters with the store that the shopper will become increasingly loyal to a single grocer. It is a way for everyone to win, all benefiting in terms of money, time and convenience -- not to mention the quality of the shopping experience," said Steve Wood, CEO of Odyssey Technology.

FMNW will now extend an offer that is highly competitive with existing Web-based grocery services. While customers reduce the time they actually spend in the store, their experience is enhanced by the efficiency of the service. This allows them a more leisurely interaction with store employees and a more pleasant exploration of the areas of the store where they prefer to make their own selections. In addition, participating in the service positions them to take advantage of services planned for the near future, including wireless access to other retailers in the community.

Thomas Conway, President of Odyssey, reiterates this concept: "The supermarket has the potential to be a powerful hub for a community of retailers and shoppers. This is what our combined offer is all about -- that community and what it can mean to people's lives."

The Thriftway iOn Shopper(TM) sets new standards in ease and interactivity. Shoppers have access via highly-accurate voice recognition that requires no training; touch screen functions with onscreen animations; a built-in scanner for adding replacement items from pantry to shopping lists; and wireless technology which frees the device from the desktop computer.

Limited trials of the joint initiative will be held in the 4th quarter of this year, beginning in Seattle, Washington. A full launch of the iOn service is scheduled for April, 2001.

About Odyssey Technology

Odyssey strengthens interdependencies between retailers, shoppers, manufacturers and consumer brands. The company has developed software infrastructure, wireless devices and business processes that enable the traditional retailer to offer a suite of valuable services to its customers -- unobtrusive services that address the issues of time and convenience that increasingly burden consumers, and transform the experience of shopping for goods and services.

Odyssey combines industry leading e-Commerce infrastructure and connectivity tools with its innovative integration of voice, touch and bar code scanning into devices to simplify and make intuitive the user experience. As such it also provides professional services and licenses its software and systems to companies interested in accessing consumer markets.

Founded and managed by pioneers and authorities in software, hardware and marketing design, Odyssey Technology is a globally-situated company as committed to innovative business methodology as it is to human-friendly consumer and B2B solutions.

About Food Markets Northwest

Food Markets Northwest, Inc. began in 1971 with one grocery store location in Seattle, Washington. We now have multiple progressive, upscale grocery locations within the Puget Sound area and conduct business as Queen Anne and Admiral Thriftway stores. Our pursuit of cutting-edge food marketing is one of the factors that distinguishes us within our industry, and is representative of our dedication to excellence and the pride with which we approach our work.

Our mission . . . people working together to enrich the lives of our customers by presenting and exciting marketplace, featuring a collection of world class products with a passion for legendary service.