Peapod Activates Order-by-Text Platform

Online grocer Peapod is now allowing patrons to build and update their orders for pickup or delivery via text messages.

The new Chat-to-Cart platform from Chicago-based StorePower allows shoppers to text via standard characters, dictation and even emoji icons to order their groceries, allowing for a list to be shared across multiple family members. Additionally, it can be synced with voice-activated assistants for voice-to-text convenience.

To develop the platform, Peapod worked with the Chicago-based online shopping tools developer, making it one of the first retailers to implement the solution. The ecommerce company charges customers nothing to use the service, which can be used by texting 1-833-TXT-PPOD. Users text a product by name or related emoji, type “Options” to share the list and add contributors, and tap a link to check out or edit. List updates also can be made via Siri and Google Assistant once the phone number is saved in a contacts list, and users can type or say “reorder” at any time to edit their last order.

"At Peapod, we have always been committed to being the ultimate convenience for our customers," said Cat De Merode, Peapod's VP of product. "The Chat-to-Cart platform was designed for the busy shopper that relies on their mobile device whether at home or on the go. Now, instead of texting a family member to pick up an extra gallon of milk, you can text Peapod and let us do the work. The texting functionality complements the Peapod mobile app and desktop website for one seamless ordering process."

Perhaps the most significant issue with developing such a function is responding with the correct product upon first text from a customer. De Merode told Progressive Grocer that getting the product wrong once or more will deter shoppers from using the feature, so developing precision was key. 

"This is something we're always working on, but with text, you don't get many chances before it's easier to just open the app," she said. "We don't mind if you do that too, of course. Supporting emojis? That was just plain fun."

The new service follows several other complementary innovations from Peapod geared toward the connected shopper – its revamped mobile app, which launched a couple of years ago, and the new Ask Peapod service, which connects with Amazon’s Alexa voice-assistant technology for ordering via dictation. The latter innovation was particularly lauded by grocery technology experts, who praised the innovation for its simplicity, kitchen-friendliness, ability to drive shopper loyalty, and alleviation of several common shopper frustrations.

Every one of these innovations, according to De Merode, has its own context along with its strengths and weaknesses.

"Ask Peapod is great when you're in the middle of cooking and your hands are occupied, but Alexa demands a simple integration with a slick handoff to our more robust applications," she stated. "Chat-to-Cart is perfect for when you're running out the door and want to unload the mental energy of remembering to add something to a list later. If we can accomplish that part, we can use the screen later to make sure the preferred product gets added.

Continued De Merode: "In every platform we build on, we do our best to understand how it fits into the lives and homes of our shoppers before we design the functionality that will best serve them there and then."

All of these solutions fit with Peapod’s drive to offer not just products, but also – as Linda Crowder, senior director of Peapod Interactive, put it – “inspiration, a solution, excitement and engagement.” While it takes work to stock shelves, it’s far more intensive to create a solution – but at the same time, it’s also a “wonderful opportunity” to build baskets and loyalty, she told attendees of Pulse 2017, a grocery technology event in Chicago hosted last June by Progressive Grocer, its sister brand Retail Leader and Food Marketing Institute.

“It's about 'How do you help me make my life better? How do you help me make my life easier?'” Crowder said during the event.

A subsidiary of Ahold USA, Skokie, Ill.-based Peapod offers delivery to homes and businesses, and operates 200-plus pickup locations for click-and-collect orders. It's available in 24 metro markets across New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

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