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Peapod is launching more than 100 virtual grocery stores at commuter rail stations in Boston, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.
The first of its kind in the United States, Peapod's virtual store technology features billboards of grocery aisles on train platforms. Commuters with iPhones, iPads or Android phones can scan a QR code on the billboards to download a free PeapodMobile app and start shopping on the spot by scanning bar codes of the products displayed in the “aisles.”
What began as a pilot program in May at one station in Chicago has expanded to 16 Chicago Transit Authority elevated train and Metra commuter rail stations throughout the Chicago area. The virtual store boards feature Peapod’s exclusive line of Chicago’s Best products, which include ready-to-serve and ready-to-cook main dishes, starters, sides, desserts and beverages from nearly 30 of Chicago’s best loved restaurants and hometown brands. Peapod.com offers more than 150 selections from restaurants including Wildfire, Big Bowl, Eli’s Cheesecake, Chicago Butter Cookies, Intelligentsia coffee and Goose Island Beer.
On the East Coast, Peapod has teamed with national consumer products brands, including Barilla, Coca-Cola, Kimberly Clark, Proctor & Gamble and Reckitt Benckiser. The virtual stores feature products that typically fill weekly shopping baskets for busy households, including staples like coffee, condiments and cleaning products; soft drinks, snacks and cereal; milk and bread; health and beauty products; and fresh fruits and vegetables.
With commuters in Peapod markets spending an hour commuting each day, the virtual grocery stores will let them get orders started, make selections from Peapod’s entire online store and schedule home deliveries, making the most of their time en route.
“Getting your groceries on the way home from work just got a whole new meaning,” said Mike Brennan, Peapod COO. “With schedules that are more demanding than ever and people spending 200-plus hours a year in transit, our hope is that consumers will take advantage of our virtual stores and mobile app while they’re on the go and enjoy the time saved when they’re at home.”
First-time Peapod customers will need to register online in order to complete their first PeapodMobile order on their smartphones.
Brennan said the Virtual Rail marketing concept is also an unexpected way for Peapod and its national brand partners to reinforce messaging with target consumers. “We all know how challenging it can be to get the attention of consumers in a meaningful way,” he said. “When we piloted the virtual aisles in Philadelphia and Chicago earlier this year, we found that the advertising stopped people, it engaged them. That’s what we’re after.”