How Peapod Changed Online Grocery Shopping with Cutting-Edge Technology, Individualized Savings, and Simplified Nutrition
3.30.18 Innovative Technologies

How Peapod Changed Online Grocery Shopping with Cutting-Edge Technology, Individualized Savings, and Simplified Nutrition

By: Jon McDonald

The Crunch: Entering the market in the late 1980s, Peapod revolutionized the grocery industry by offering online ordering and home delivery long before e-commerce was commonplace. Over the years, Peapod has kept its industry vanguard status by initiating new capacities for online grocery ordering and meal planning. At the same time, the company has built a reputation for its ethical business practices and commitment to the communities it serves. Though Peapod is known for developing state-of-the-art technologies, it never forgoes its dedication to simplifying grocery shopping for consumers in a busy digital age.

Brothers Andrew and Thomas Parkinson founded Peapod in 1989 and began laying the groundwork for smarter grocery shopping through technology. In the mid-’90s, the brothers used what they knew about the nascent internet — think floppy disks and dial-up modems — to create the world’s first online grocery shopping experience, Peapod.com. This e-commerce venture was initially designed to meet the needs of busy consumers in the Chicago area.

The brothers’ risk-taking spirit paid off, and over the ensuing decades, Peapod flourished by designing more innovative technologies to meet customer needs. Throughout Peapod’s history, the company has stayed ahead of trends and remedied pain points, which is what continues to attract customers today.

“At its foundation, Peapod works to simplify the shopping experience while maximizing customer benefit,” said Carrie Bienkowski, Peapod’s Chief Marketing Officer.

As the grocery delivery sector expands — it’s predicted to become a $100 billion sector by 2025 — Peapod remains true to its core principles of easing the burdens of home cooking while maintaining its reputation for creating solutions that free up users’ time.

Peapod even beats the crowd to many of the newest digital channels to enhance the customer experience. Most recently, the company unveiled a text-to-order app — the first of its kind.

“The Chat-to-Cart™ platform lets our customers use their phones to type, speak, and even use popular emojis to build and update their Peapod carts,” Carrie said.

Families can also purchase meal prep kits or recipes, which bundle together the ingredients for a meal and add them to a customer’s cart. When the ingredients arrive, home cooks can quickly find the recipes through Peapod.

“In a recent survey we conducted, ready-to-serve and cook mixes were the most valued shortcut among home cooks, with nearly one-third of adults planning to purchase a meal kit in 2018,” Carrie said.

And these time-saving ideas have the same inspiration as they did at Peapod’s inception. “Today, just like in 1989, customer needs drive brand innovation,” Carrie said.

Simplifying Home Cooking with Bundled Recipes and Meal Prep Kits

Peapod aims to help home cooks create the tastiest meals without adding prep time to their busy schedules.

Through its “Peas from the Pod” blog series, customers can navigate to the site to find tasty recipes. If a recipe looks enticing, a customer can click on it, find instructions on how to make it, and even add the dish’s ingredients to a Peapod cart.

“Customers can add the kits to their Peapod cart as they would any other grocery item. Many options cost less than $5 per serving” Carrie said.

Some of the meal kits Peapod offers are designed for slow-cookers, including a beef stew recipe that serves nine — at a cost-per-serving of $2.22. Another is a chicken tortilla soup meal kit that serves six — with ingredients priced at just under $18.

Screenshot of Peas from the Pod blog

Peapod set out to solve another customer frustration: reading nutritional labels. “Our customers have told us that one of the pain points of traditional in-store grocery shopping is the overwhelming selection and the time it takes to read labels to find what they need,” Carrie said.

In response, Peapod allows users to find the healthy foods they want by using the search feature on its Express Shop. Search results will include a list of possible items that are similar or related. Additionally, users can sort by specific food allergies or dietary restrictions — like gluten-free or low sodium.

“While we all want options, we also want to find what we’re looking for quickly,” Carrie said. “Peapod creates a curated shopping experience to help consumers find what they’re looking for with just a few clicks.”

Customer Loyalty Built on Personalization, Not a Subscription Model

Unlike many competitors, Peapod does not require a subscription. Peapod even lets new customers experience the ease of home grocery delivery free for the first 60 days.

The company offers users easier ways to save money than clipping coupons. Its online shop features thousands of specials each week that are sorted and personalized to user preferences. Peapod also doubles the value of manufacturer coupons — up to 99 cents — meaning that customers can save twice what they would by using them in-store.

“Peapod works to simplify the shopping experience while maximizing customer benefit. We are a personalized grocery hub for on-the-go shoppers.” — Carrie Bienkowski, Peapod’s Chief Marketing Officer

The shopping experience is streamlined even further with Peapod’s Order Genius, which repopulates users’ shopping carts with commonly ordered items.

“Peapod works to simplify the shopping experience while maximizing customer benefit. We are a personalized grocery hub for on-the-go shoppers,” Carrie said.

A Commitment to the Community and Ethical Business Practices

As a local partner to both grocery stores and its customers, Peapod aims to be an ethical contributor to the communities it serves. Warehouse workers and drivers are employees, not on-demand workers, meaning that they develop long-term relationships with customers and local businesses.

Photo of Carrie Bienkowski, Peapod CMO

Carrie Bienkowski spoke with us about Peapod’s value to busy consumers.

“Investing in our employees fosters loyalty and better service for our customers — our Peapod pickers tend to be the longest running employees in our warehouses,” Carrie said.

In turn, employees take pride in the business and demonstrate that by choosing the freshest ingredients for customers. “We have a saying, ‘If we wouldn’t pick it for our mother, we won’t pick it for a customer,’” Carrie said.

Peapod also gives back to the communities in which it operates.

“Throughout the year, Peapod donates groceries to local food banks,” Carrie said. “Peapod celebrated opening a warehouse in North Coventry, Pennsylvania, by donating to the Coventry Food Pantry.”

The company also contributes to nonprofits that support sustainable food practices and has a long-term partnership with Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium to increase awareness about environmentally harmful fishing.

“Peapod donates 25 cents per fresh and frozen seafood purchase and 5 cents per canned seafood item to the aquarium,” Carrie says. Since 2008, Peapod has donated more than $67,000 to Shedd’s conservation programs.

Peapod Prepares to Meet Consumers’ Future Grocery Ordering Needs

Peapod disrupted the grocery industry with a revolutionary idea: online grocery ordering. In the following decades, Peapod continued to add new functionalities to its e-commerce platform, simplifying users’ lives and helping them put fresh, home-cooked meals on their tables.

And the company is not done innovating.

Up next is a partnership that will let users create personalized meal plans and recipes that are then translated into shopping lists. Rather than having to search for recipes, customers can generate them and have ingredients delivered — or pick them up at one of Peapod’s 200 physical locations. With this new capacity, Peapod customers can spend more time cooking — and, of course, eating — than browsing for recipes.

Peapod is also aiming to expand into more zip codes. “Interest from consumers is rising, and we are excited to continue serving shoppers who are looking to simplify their meal planning and grocery needs,” Carrie said.