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Peapod brings QR code-enabled virtual grocery store to Chicago

May 7, 2012

Commuters order groceries via the Peapod app

Peapod is giving Chicago commuters a way to simplify grocery shopping by using their smartphones to scan and order items from inside a train station.

The virtual grocery store is inside Chicago’s State and Lake Station Tunnel. The tunnel walls are wrapped with larger-than-life ads of grocery store shelves stocked with popular products such as Coca-Cola, Barilla and items from Procter & Gamble that can be scanned and ordered via a smartphone.

“Chicagoans spend, on average, more than an hour commuting to and from work each day.  That’s well over 200 hours a year in transit time alone,” said Elana Margolis, director of corporate communications at Peapod, Chicago.

“Peapod’s virtual store program for commuter rail stations is a creative, convenient way for passengers to multi-task and knock out their grocery shopping on the go,” she said. “It helps turn commuting time into productive time.

“Plus Chicago is our hometown, and we felt this was an innovative way to reinforce our brand with our customers in a way that’s fun and unexpected.  You really can shop with Peapod anytime, anywhere.”

Peapod is a leading Internet grocer serving 24 markets in the United States, including Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Hampshire and New York.

Multi-tasking commuters
The Chicago pilot follows Peapod’s roll out of a similar virtual store concept on 15 commuter rail platforms in Philadelphia in February.

In the Chicago execution, users can scan a QR code to download the free Peapod Mobile app, which is available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

Once users have the app installed, they can scan the bar codes of the products featured in the ads.

Orders can then be placed directly from the app while commuters ride the train to or from the office and schedule a delivery for the next day or days in advance.

Commuters can also manage shopping lists via the app.

The goal of the strategy is to offer a creative and convenient way for commuters to multi-task and take care of their grocery shopping while traveling between home and the office.

To promote the new service, Peapod is offering mobile shoppers $20 off their first order and 60 days for free delivery. Commuters can enter the promotion code “CHICAGORAIL” to redeem the offer.

In stock
The virtual store is stocked with many of the items that shoppers purchase every week, such as coffee, condiments and cleaning products. There is also soup, snacks and cereal, milk, bread, health and beauty products as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Once on the Peapod Mobile app, customers can also access more than 12,000 products, including beer, wine and beverages.

First-time Peapod customers need to register on in order to complete their first Peapod Mobile order on their smartphones.

The 12-week virtual store program in Philadelphia saw commuters’ selections diversify and the size of their mobile orders grow, per Peapod. Additionally, the company reports that 90 percent of those who scanned an item in one of the virtual stores have returned to shop and order again from Peapod.

One important way that Chicago’s virtual store is different from the Philadelphia one is that more products are available to scan directly from the virtual shelves.

“We added more items for the Chicago pilot,” Ms. Margolis said.  “Our vendors got really excited about it and several of them wanted to be involved.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York 

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