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Ahold’s U.S. internet grocer Peapod celebrates an impressive 25 years in business

Carlisle, Pennsylvania, United States, 2014-10-6— /EPR Retail News/ — This year, our U.S. internet grocer Peapod celebrates an impressive 25 years in business – the company’s founders truly invented the online grocery industry and continue to build on their success today, as part of Ahold’s omni-channel offering in partnership with our U.S. divisions.

Looking back at the early days

Before there was e-commerce of any sort, there were two brothers, Thomas and Andrew Parkinson, who in 1989 were developing a new way to shop. With DOS programming software, dial-up modems and floppy disks, they created, and shopping from a computer for home-delivered goods was born. Peapod was, indeed, the first online grocery service, giving customers first in Chicago and later in 23 other U.S. markets the convenience and value of shopping on their own terms – anytime, anywhere.

“We wanted to fundamentally improve people’s lives by making it easier to shop,” said Andrew Parkinson, president, CEO and co-founder of Peapod, who also served as delivery driver along with his brother and their wives in the early Peapod days. “We did that by bringing an interactive shopping experience to a broad customer market.”

Peapod today

Today, Peapod is 25 years young and 1,500 employees strong. Peapod offers more than 15,000 items in its digital aisles, has filled more than 29 million grocery orders across 24 U.S. markets, and continues to leverage its relationship with our U.S. divisions and America’s finest supermarkets: Stop & Shop, Giant Landover and Giant Carlisle. That kind of growth and success has not gone unnoticed as more and more e-stores enter the grocery space, from digital giants to locally based start-ups. However, Peapod remains focused on cutting-edge advancements in mobile technology to continue pioneering the space and making shopping in Peapod’s complete grocery store via smartphones and tablets the most convenient, indispensable way to go.

Andrew continued, “First and foremost, Peapod is a grocer. And we are proud to partner with some of the premier supermarkets in the country. By leveraging the food expertise of Ahold’s retail companies and combining it with Peapod’s dedication to innovative mobile technology and improving the digital customer experience, we are uniquely positioned to offer our customers options to shop for their groceries how, where and when they want. We pack a one-two punch that places us at the top of the pack of online grocery retailers.”

Mobile solutions for savvy shoppers

“A large segment of our customers is time-starved, tech-savvy Millennial moms – always on the go, never without their smart phones,” said Andrew. “Our aim is to bring convenience to their lives, and we recognized early on that that means putting mobile first.”

The free Peapod smart phone and tablet app released in 2010 was the first of its kind. Today 40% of the company’s total sales come from mobile devices, and 70% of its mobile sales are from apps. What’s next? “We’re not developing technology for technology’s sake,” Andrew added. “Our direction is to further develop and amplify the digital experience and, frankly, continue to re-engineer the way we used to shop.” For example, Peapod allows shoppers to sort groceries according to nutritional needs, so instead of scanning every product’s nutrition label for dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, etc., Peapod serves up only those products that meet the shoppers’ requirements.

Spearheading the continued mobile innovation are members of Peapod Propulsion Labs, a digital innovation center in downtown Chicago launched by the Parkinsons in early 2014. “The idea is for the advancements to be exciting but relevant to multiple generations and to make sure we are well positioned to serve the future wave of digital natives,” said Thomas Parkinson, Peapod’s Chief Technology Officer and co-founder.

From DOS to Digital

When the Parkinson brothers started Peapod in 1989, it was a two-person operation based out of the family garage. Customers were required to have RAM space on their original Macintosh desktops, a dial-up modem and a floppy disk drive – a far cry from today’s mobile app, iCloud storage and easy-click checkout.

“If you look back at our first instructional video and compare it to the technology we have now, it’s pretty amusing,” said Thomas.

A customer placed grocery orders online using Peapod’s software, and the brothers would hand-pick the desired items themselves at a local grocery store and deliver them to the customer’s home.

Fast forward 25 years, and Peapod operates sophisticated fulfillment centers, most with distinctive climate controlled zones, including several zones specific to produce type. Peapod’s friendly delivery drivers arrive promptly at customer homes and businesses or on-the-go customers swing by convenient Pick-Up locations to collect their orders in under five minutes. Its transportation fleet of its familiar green delivery trucks seeks to use the most environmentally friendly fuel and technology available.

25 years young

With 25 years behind it, Peapod is just getting started. Momentum continues, as Peapod continues to use a mix of innovative supply chain options to meet dynamic and growing customer demand. In addition to Peapod’s traditional home delivery service, more than 200 Pick-Up locations were launched in two short years, most in locations connected to the supermarkets operated by our U.S. divisions. Exciting partnerships with local artisans and small-batch vendors continue to come online, expanding Peapod’s product diversity, particularly in the areas of organic and sustainable foods.

“At 25, we’ve come into our own. We’re the best of a grocery store plus more,” said Andrew. “We’ll celebrate this milestone by continuing to deliver the most convenient shopping experience, with the most diverse selection of products, at the best value, to our customers.”

25 Years of Firsts

In 1989, Peapod was the world’s first total e-commerce company. Since then, there have been a number of additional milestones.

  • The first to handle client service online (1990)
  • The first to sort by price and unit price (1991)
  • The first to offer targeted and personalized ads (1995)
  • The first to establish shopping centers equipped with eight different temperature zones (2001)
  • The first to go mobile (2010)
  • The first in the U.S. to launch virtual grocery stores, installing more than 100 virtual shopping
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