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Peapod rolls out 'virtual grocery store' concept


CHICAGO — An online grocery delivery service is launching "virtual grocery stores" at commuter rail stations across the country., owned by the U.S. subsidiary of Dutch supermarket operator Royal Ahold, announced it would launch more than 100 of the virtual grocery stores at commuter rail stations in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, New Jersey and Connecticut. Commuters in the markets Peapod serves spend an hour in transit to and from work each day, according to Census data.

The "stores" consist of billboards that allow commuters with iPhones, iPads and Android phones to scan a QR code, download an app and start shopping by scanning bar codes on the products. Peapod has made deals with Barilla, Coca-Cola, Kimberly Clark, Proctor & Gamble and Reckitt Benckiser as part of the new initiative.

The initiative is a larger rollout of virtual grocery stores that Peapod has gradually unveiled at commuter and rapid transit rail stations in places like Chicago and Philadelphia.

"Getting your groceries on the way home from work just got a whole new meaning," Peapod COO Mike Brennan said. "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."

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