May 7, 2012, 4:02 PM

Peapod lets Chicagoans scan and shop during their commute

Train passengers can scan items on posters to buy them through Peapod.

Lead Photo

Many Chicagoans who ride the train to and from work read the news or check Facebook on their smartphones during their commute. Now, Peapod LLC is helping them get their grocery shopping done, too. Peapod has launched a virtual grocery store in Chicago’s subway.

Internet grocer Peapod, No. 52 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, has created an ad campaign that doubles as a virtual supermarket. Ads wrap tunnel walls with images of grocery shelves stocked with popular products and household staples from brands like Coca-Cola, Barilla, Procter & Gamble and Kimberly Clark. 

Commuters can use their mobile devices to scan a QR code to download a free PeapodMobile app and start shopping by scanning the bar codes of the products featured in the ads.  Commuters can get orders started on the platform, manage shopping lists and schedule deliveries—for the next day or even several days or weeks in advance—during their train rides, Peapod says.

“Chicagoans spend, on average, more than an hour commuting to and from work each day,” says Mike Brennan, chief operating officer for Peapod. “That’s well over 200 hours a year in transit time alone, and our schedules are more demanding than ever. Peapod’s virtual store program for commuter rail stations is a convenient way for passengers to multi-task and knock out their grocery shopping on the go.”

Peapod’s virtual store ads include products that typically fill weekly shopping baskets for busy households, Peapod says. Meanwhile, the PeapodMobile app gives customers access to more than 12,000 products. First-time Peapod customers must register on to complete their first PeapodMobile order on their smartphones.

To promote the virtual store, Peapod is offering mobile shoppers $20 off their first order, and 60 days of free delivery for subsequent orders by entering promotional code “CHICAGORAIL.”

The Chicago virtual store follows a virtual rail pilot Peapod launched in February on 15 commuter rail platforms throughout Philadelphia. During that 12-week campaign, commuters took advantage of the onsite grocery scanning option, diversifying their selections and boosting their mobile order size, Peapod says. 90% of consumers who scanned in the Philadelphia campaign returned to Peapod to shop and order again, it adds.

Nor was Peapod the first to come up with the idea. U.K.-based chain Tesco Stores, No. 3 in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Europe, aiming to become the top grocery retailer in South Korea, last year began plastering the walls of subways stops in that country with images of grocery shelves, complete with bar codes that consumers can scan to complete purchases.

Last year, Peapod, owned by Dutch supermarket company Royal Ahold, said that it expected half of its orders to come through mobile devices within three years. Peapod has apps for Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad as well as for smartphones using Google Inc.’s Android operating system. Soon after building its iPad app, Peapod said it found that iPad users spend more, on average, than the typical Peapod ticket of $150.


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