PEAPOD'S WEB UPGRADE HAS NEW USERS IN MIND

SKOKIE, Ill. -- Peapod, the Internet grocery retailer here, recently added some new features and enhanced some existing options to make the home-shopping experience easier, especially for new users.The changes include an "express-shop" feature, which helps first-time shoppers build their order without having to browse the aisles or search for items one at a time, according to the retailer."While we

SKOKIE, Ill. -- Peapod, the Internet grocery retailer here, recently added some new features and enhanced some existing options to make the home-shopping experience easier, especially for new users.

The changes include an "express-shop" feature, which helps first-time shoppers build their order without having to browse the aisles or search for items one at a time, according to the retailer.

"While we conceived this feature to help ease the transition to on-line shopping for first-time customers, existing customers have told us this would be a time-saver for them as well," said Anne Marie Walsh, vice president of product management, in a statement.

Since many users say they are reluctant to get involved in on-line shopping because they are intimidated by the setup process, many on-line retailers are finding it is important to make the first contact with the customer quick and efficient.

"You take the paper list and enter it in, like milk, cheese etc., separated by commas, then you hit shop and [the system] takes you through the store," said Paula Wheeler, a Peapod spokeswoman.

The "express-shop" feature can also be used in combination with the "previous-orders" feature to provide a faster way to add items to an on-line order.

A new "delivery-time reservation" feature allows consumers to select a delivery time before they compile their list.

"Many customers make shopping decisions based on when they know they'll be getting their delivery," Walsh added.

Wheeler told SN that the delivery-reservation tool helps people plan their shopping experience. She added that before the new technology, customers would make up a list and then enter a time for delivery, which could not always be fulfilled.

By designating a delivery window first, product can be guaranteed within a 90-minute window, according to the retailer.

Another new feature for the site allows grocery-order confirmations to two different e-mail addresses. If two people share home-shopping duties, this e-mail system helps to confirm that the shopping list is accurate as well as allow for changes in the list.

One addition, called "sort by most popular" is an addition to Peapod's existing sorting system and informs customers about products through sorting them by price or nutritional information such as low-fat, low-cholesterol etc., according to Wheeler.

The sort feature also allows customers to obtain advice on products from fellow Peapod shoppers.

"When you're unfamiliar with a category, such as wine, or just looking for a reliable brand of dishwashing liquid, 'sort by most popular' essentially lets you call on the Peapod shopping community for a recommendation," Walsh said.

The new features should help people shop smarter and more efficiently, according to the retailer.