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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Groceries Delivered to Your Front Door

Now, this is just too cool!

My husband (Ed) and I ordered our groceries online tonight from Peapod, which works through the grocery-store chain Stop & Shop (the largest food retailer in New England, covering Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island) to deliver groceries. (Peapod also works with the Giant Food chain in Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland.) Peapod's been around for a while, but it's new to Ed and me. It was founded in 1989, starting out in the Chicago area. It expanded into other areas of the country, had some bad experiences in places that weren't ready for it, cut back, revamped, and ramped up again. Here's Peadpod's official company history, from its web site, with a little editing by me for consistency and readability:
1989–1989: Andrew and Thomas Parkinson pioneer the online grocery delivery concept, establishing Peapod in Evanston, Ill. Combining backgrounds in consumer product marketing (Andrew was a brand manager with Procter & Gamble and Kraft) and technology expertise (Thomas was the founder of a software company), the brothers establish Peapod as a lifestyle solution for busy families.

1990: Peapod partners with Chicago-area Jewel Food Stores to fulfill orders. Peapod begins test marketing to about 400 households in Evanston, IL. The company provides software and modems for customers who have to dial-in directly to the Peapod shopping system. During the early days, Andrew, Thomas and their families do the picking and packing—making deliveries with their own cars.

1991: With Evanston, IL, proving a success, Peapod expands its service to the surrounding suburbs and Chicago.

1993: Peapod launches service in San Francisco with Safeway.

1995: Peapod launches its first advertising campaign; the company gains 4,600 members. (Until this time, Peapod built its customer base largely through word of mouth.) Peapod initiates service in Columbus, OH, with the Kroger Company.

1996: Peapod reaches a customer base of 43,200. Peapod partners with Stop & Shop to offer "Peapod by Stop & Shop" in the Boston metro area. Peapod joins the Internet, launching its own Web site: www.peapod.com. Inc. magazine names Peapod to the "Inc. 500" ranking of the fastest-growing U.S. private companies.

1997: Peapod opens the first Stop & Shop wareroom in Watertown, MA, just outside Boston. In June, Peapod completes a successful initial public offering, listing its shares on the NASDAQ.

1998: Peapod initiates service on Long Island, NY, with Stop & Shop, and in Texas with Randalls and Tom Thumb. In July, Peapod delivers its one millionth order, to a customer in Chicago.

1999: After growing business in the Chicago market, Peapod pursues a centralized distribution model: moving from 12 store locations to one dedicated warehouse outside Chicago, in Niles, IL.

2000: In June, Royal Ahold takes a 51% ownership. Peapod names current president and CEO Marc van Gelder. Van Gelder joins the company from Stop & Shop, a subsidiary of Royal Ahold. Peapod initiates service in Norwalk, CT, with Stop & Shop. In September, Peapod acquires Streamline.com operations in Chicago and Washington DC. In November, Peapod partners with Giant Food (a Royal Ahold subsidiary) to launch "Peapod by Giant" in the Washington DC metro area.

2001: Peapod begins servicing communities in Virginia and Maryland, partnering with Giant Food. In August, Royal Ahold buys the remaining shares of Peapod, establishing the Internet grocer as a wholly owned subsidiary of the international food retailing and foodservice company. Peapod pursues a bricks-and-clicks strategy, engaging in exclusive relationships with Ahold U.S.A. grocers—Stop & Shop and Giant Food—and planning growth in markets where these grocers have a presence. Peapod replaces its Niles, IL, warehouse with a new 75,000-square foot, climate-controlled distribution center (a former Streamline.com facility) in Lake Zurich, IL.

2002:
Peapod by Stop & Shop expands service to Cape Cod, MA.
Peapod continues to grow revenues 20% despite having closed five markets not strategic to Ahold (Columbus, Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Francisco).

2003: Peapod achieves profitability in four out of five markets. In April, Peapod introduces service in Hartford, CT, with Stop & Shop. In July, Peapod delivers its five millionth order, to a customer in Chicago. In October, Peapod initiates service in New Haven, CT, with Stop & Shop.

2004: In April, Peapod introduces service in Rhode Island with Stop & Shop. In July, Peapod introduces service in Mt. Vernon, NY, with Stop & Shop. In August, Peapod introduces service in Baltimore with Giant. In September, Peapod introduces service in Cromwell, CT, with Stop & Shop. Peapod names Andrew Parkinson as president and general manager. Parkinson is the company founder and past CFO. In December, Peapod introduces service in Watchung, NJ, with Stop & Shop.

2005: In April, Peapod introduces service in Milwaukee, WI. In August, Peapod introduces service in Danbury, CT, with Stop & Shop. In November, Peapod introduces service in Wanaque, NJ, with Stop & Shop. In November, Peapod introduces service in Somerset, NJ, with Stop & Shop.

2006: In March, Peapod introduces service in Medford, NY, with Stop & Shop.

Peapod had absolutely everything we wanted except for special anti–hair ball cat food and the store's own brand of cheese bricks (Cheddar, Muenster, and Swiss); Peapod wanted us to buy the more expensive brands of cheese. On his way home from work tomorrow evening, Ed will buy these items at the store. Meanwhile, sometime between 3:30 and 7 p.m., a driver will deliver the food to our house (aka my office). If Ed's not home from work by the time the driver arrives, I'll take a break from work and put away the groceries.

There's a $6.95 delivery fee for orders of more than $100, which our order is; the fee is $9.95 for orders of less than $100. Tipping is optional, but you bet I'll tip the driver for making things easy for us. We can pay on the site by credit card, debit card, or direct debit from our checking account. Next time, I'll choose the latter option because we always shop on the same day and have put aside the funds for it, so why not just put those funds in the bank account instead of carrying cash to the store? And next week, shopping online will be even easier, because Peapod will have kept track of what we bought, so that we can buy the same things if we need them again.

This seems like a wonderful service for families with kids. What we've done for years is this: Ed gets home from work at 6 p.m. On Tuesday nights, after he's cooked dinner (while I'm still working), we all eat together. He makes the grocery list and then heads to the store to shop. (No way to we want to shop on weekends, because the store's a madhouse then. And I'm not going to stop work on a weekday to do shopping while the kids are in school, with a sitter [in-laws], or with me [ack!].) Meanwhile, I wrangle the boys through bath time and into bed.

But with this service, Ed can stay home and we can double-team the boys. A much more restful evening!

I'll let you know how well we like the quality of the fresh foods after they're delivered tomorrow evening.

Damn, but I love the Internet!

Update



4 comments:

The Fat Lady Sings said...

I wish Peapod operated out here. It's a 45 minute drive to the nearest grocery store. In fact - it takes that long to get to the nearest anything (except the vet, which is the only one for miles). We do most of our other shopping on line as a result. The huge shopping sector in our area handles 4 counties of people. As a result, it is packed to the gills every second of every day. We avoid the crowds as much as possible.

Katharine said...

Yup. I buy just about everything online (clothing, office supplies), even though it's easily accessible here in the Land of Malls (aka Long Island), because I hate the crowds—and the shopaholic mentality here. Shopping in person here seems to be a social ritual for many. Not for me. It's a chore that I want done quickly so that I can get on with real life.

Cris said...

Oh how I love the internet too! I shop regularly at drugstore.com. I haven't bought toothpaste and tampons from the store for years now. Conveniently delivered to me, and most of the time, they have free gifts. Plus shipping is always free :-)

Aniket said...

Hi, This is Aniket Nikhade. My email address is aniketnikhade@hotmail.com. First of I would like to say few things when I read your short, sweet, but perfect article "Groceries Delivered to Your Front Door" I am commerce student and after reading the article I was amazed because your article has got a tremendous amount of clarity and smoothness as far as flow of words is concerned. Coming back to the core suject of the article I would like to mention that this process is a combination of networking and proper, sound administration because of which the customer gets benefited. Anyway, specifically what I like about the article was the fact that as a writer you never pretended. In developing countries like mine, INDIA, this system is also exists and is advancing with time, changes that are made with respect to technology. Wanted to hear from you more about commerce, blooging, and copywriting, great, terrific.

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