Last year, we wrote about Tesco’s plan to reinvent grocery shopping in South Korea by allowing busy commuters to scan images with their smartphones in virtual grocery stores located in subway terminals and have those groceries delivered to their homes. It seemed like one of those million-miles-away, Jetsons-like ideas that sounds nifty, but doesn’t have a chance of catching on in the “real world.”
Peapod, the grocery delivery service owned by Ahold USA, has begun posting ads in 15 Philadelphia SEPTA rail stations. The posters (above) resemble grocery shelves stocked with dozens of popular products. As reported by Philly.com, “commuters with smartphones can download Peapod’s free app on the spot and scan the bar codes. Orders are delivered the next day, in most cases.”
Using the app, shoppers can browse and purchase thousands of products, not just the products shown on the paid rail station ads. In fact, smartphone users can do their weekly grocery shopping from any location. Peapod is offering free delivery for 60 days and $20 off the first order for shoppers using the promo code PHILLYRAIL.
Peapod chose Philly ”because it’s a new and exciting market,” but with 24 U.S. cities in the company’s grocery delivery footprint, success in the City of Brotherly Love could signal the rollout of similar programs in other large markets.
But not everyone will likely jump on the groceries-by-smartphone bandwagon. While some will do anything to avoid the chore of pushing a cart around a crowded store for an hour or two each week, others cherish the sights, sounds and smells of the grocery-shopping experience.
Can you knock on a watermelon via smartphone or sniff a cantaloupe to test their ripeness? Will an app let you pick the perfect pot roast for Sunday dinner or replicate the joy of standing in the freezer aisle wrestling with the options overload of figuring out the ice cream flavor that would pair best with the romantic comedy you picked up at RedBox 10 minutes ago?
Technology has changed our lives for the better, no doubt about it. But there are some things a smartphone can’t do, which is why the traditional grocery shopping experience isn’t going anywhere any time soon.