By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
With tax season in full swing and little possibility of making huge strides in attracting new customers in traditional office and computer superstores, Intuit has started selling its Quicken TurboTax product line in 1,500 supermarkets.
The deal places the 2002 version of the popular tax preparation software in the Safeway supermarket and drug store chain nationwide, said Todd Stanley, senior product manager for Intuit. Adding a non-traditional channel is part of Intuit's ongoing effort to expose the software title to potential customers. Until last month the company focused its efforts on mainline office, computer and CE superstores along with a growing Web-based effort, but Intuit executives felt they had to cast a wider net.
Intuit has repackaged the TurboTax and TurboTax Deluxe titles, removing the standard software box and using just a CD-ROM jewel case. These are being placed near the check out counters to try and entice impulse buyers.
"We probably won't get to many new customers from a computer store. These people probably already use it, but we might find new customers in a supermarket," Stanley said.
While buyers for the CD-ROM-based software are hard to come by, Intuit's online TurboTax product has performed very well. Stanley said 2.4 million people used the Web version in 2001, up about 1 million from the previous year, and the company expects continued significant growth in 2002. In comparison, about 5.2 million copies of the CD-ROM were sold last year.
Interestingly, Stanley said the Web business is coming from people accustomed to filling out their tax return by hand and not those who have used the software. He was not sure why this was so.
One of the additions made to TurboTax this year is an expanded list of partners for the applications-instant-data entry feature. Intuit has inked deals with several payroll and mortgage companies to allow TurboTax customers to directly download W-2 and mortgage interest data into their tax return. This eliminates the need to manually key in the data, which will save time and be more accurate, said Stanley.
Intuit also added the 401K Maximizer. This feature gives the user tips on how to pay more money into their retirement program without losing any additional take home pay. The 2001 version has been updated with all the new federal and state tax laws, many of which are brought to the user's attention while the return is being completed. Additional updates are available from Intuit's Web site.
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