Virtual Shopping Is the Future

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Online shopping isn’t a new idea. In fact we’ve been able to buy just about anything from clothes, to jewelry to cars and even houses online for nearly a decade. A more recent trend of buying groceries online and having them delivered has been gaining more and more popularity in the lives of busy Americans. Now, one company is looking to take convenient grocery shopping a step further. Chicago residents who don’t have time to stock up on food and essentials, online grocery store Peapod, has a solution: virtual shopping in the subway tunnel.

Peapod took its inspiration from Tesco who last summer started a similar program in the subway tunnels of South Korea. Homes Plus, a Tesco subsidiary, created virtual grocery aisles along the subway tunnels where commuters can use their smartphones and tablet devices to scan QR codes and then have their groceries delivered right to their doorstep. Grocery shopping only requires a few extra minutes in a daily commute.

Peapod’s first initiative was set up in Philadelphia in early 2012. According to a spokesperson, they started with 15 locations and then whittled those down to most successful 9 of those locations. Following their success in Philadelphia they decided to expand the business to the CTA station at State and Lake in Chicago’s famous Loop.

To use the virtual grocery store, users download the Peapod app and then use it to scan the codes en route. The company hopes to raise awareness of its online business and gain new customers. If you’re worried such shopping convenience would cost you a lot more, according to Peapod their average Internet shopper spends about $160 each trip. Their average mobile customers spend about $165 a trip. The whole virtual grocery store concept is created to bring in new business according to Peapod’s CTO and co-founder, Thomas Parkinson. He says the mobile customers create a huge difference in revenue for Peapod with that extra $5 per mobile order. Parkinson says about a quarter of their business has moved to mobile shopping.

Being half funded by corporations like Kimberly-Clark, Coca-Cola, and Proctor and Gamble, plus the acquisition of a whole new customer base, adds up to a lot of revenue for Peapod. And for the partnering companies, it certainly doesn’t hurt their businesses to have huge billboards featured and create a perfect impulse-shopping arena in one of the busiest areas of the Chicago subway.

Peapod is using this initiative to gauge shoppers’ behavior and gain insight. They can see the amount of items a shopper scans, how they create their shopping lists, and which device they use.

With the initiative’s early success and Peapod’s excitement over the innovation, we may never have to plan a trip to the grocery store ever again in the near future. Plus with the free stuff and samples, and coupons offered by Peapod, they make the choice easy for busy shoppers. Everything is getting digitized with the introduction of mobile devices and Peapod is just helping the grocery world follow suit.

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