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Peapod Expands Virtual Stores

CHICAGO — Online grocer Peapod here is expanding its virtual grocery-store billboards to more than 100 commuter rail stations in the markets where it operates here and in the Northeast from Washington to New England.

Shoppers can use their mobile devices to download the Peapod shopping app and then scan the bar codes displayed with the products on the billboards.

Peapod, which is owned by Ahold and provides online service for Ahold’s Stop & Shop and Giant supermarket chains in the Northeast, had been testing the billboards at a handful of locations in Chicago and Philadelphia.

In Chicago, the billboards have been expanded to 17 train stations throughout the region. They feature products from Peapod’s Chicago’s Best line of prepared foods from local restaurants and other local brands, including Wildfire, Big Bowl, Eli’s Cheesecake, Chicago Butter Cookies, Intelligentsia coffee and Goose Island Beer.

In the Northeast, Peapod is featuring products from national-brand partners, including Barilla, Coca-Cola, Kimberly Clark, Procter & Gamble and Reckitt Benckiser. Products include staples like coffee, condiments, cleaning products, soft drinks, snacks, cereal, milk and bread; health and beauty products; and fresh fruits and vegetables.

“Getting your groceries on the way home from work just got a whole new meaning,” said Mike Brennan, chief operating officer, Peapod. “With schedules that are more demanding than ever and people spending 200-plus hours a year in transit, our hope is that consumers will take advantage of our virtual stores and mobile app while they’re on the go and enjoy the time saved when they’re at home.”

The rollout follows similar tests by retailers in other countries, including Cheshunt, U.K.-based Tesco, which piloted the concept in Seoul, South Korea, last year and recently added a virtual-store billboard at London’s Gatwick Airport. According to a report in Information Age, the test billboard in Seoul was used by 55,000 customers and prompted 1.1 million app downloads.

British online grocer Ocado also began testing a virtual store last year in London. In Canada, virtual health and wellness product retailer partnered with supplier Procter & Gamble to test a virtual billboard in Toronto earlier this year, offering 120 products near the entrance to a Toronto subway station.

Peapod said the 14 stations in the Washington area with virtual stores are Brooklyn, Columbia Heights, Farragut West, Forest Glenn, Georgia Ave., Glenmont, Judiciary Square, McPherson Square, Shaw, Stadium Armory, Tenleytown, Waterfront, West Hyattsville, Woodley Park.

More news: Peapod Pilots Pick-Up Service at Stop & Shop

The 17 Chicago Transit Authority and Metra stations in Chicago are: Rosemont, Loyola, Irving Park, Illinois Medical District, Fullerton, Clinton/Lake, Belmont, Armitage and 35/Sox, all CTA stations; and Libertyville, Lake Cook, Greys Lake, Morton Grove, Crystal Lake, Barrington, Arlington Heights and Buffalo Grove, all Metra stations.

In the New York area, a billboard has been installed at the Hoboken, N.J., train station, and additional locations are planned, a spokeswoman for Peapod told SN.

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