Perhaps you dislike grocery shopping, or you’re unable to frequently leave your home due to an injury or a new baby joining the home. Or maybe you have a schedule that is so busy you have trouble making it to the supermarket. If this is the case, you may want to start using an online grocery service such as Peapod.
My family first began using Peapod in the winter of 2008 after my second child was born. She was a sickly baby, and that winter was a cold one, so rather than taking her out to the grocery store, I utilized Peapod and enjoyed having groceries delivered right to my home. I was especially surprised by the fresh fruits and vegetables available.
No matter your situation, Peapod has you covered with home grocery delivery. Learn about the benefits of Peapod, as well as the downsides, and determine whether using the service is right for you.
History of Peapod
Peapod was founded in 1989 in Evanston, Illinois by brothers Andrew and Thomas Parkinson. Originally, the Parkinson brothers partnered with Jewel-Osco supermarkets, picking up the groceries and delivering them themselves. In 1996, Peapod set up virtual shop at Peapod.com, the same year they made the Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing privately held companies. In 1999, the company stopped working with Jewel-Osco, and in 2001, Peapod was purchased by Royal Ahold.
Peapod is currently available in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Peapod has made 20 million deliveries since being founded, and the average customer gets deliveries from Peapod twice per month. The average order price is $157.
How It Works
With more than 8,000 items in stock, Peapod offers as much variety as your local grocery chain store. In addition, they offer a variety of products for many lifestyles, including organic foods and kosher foods, as well as fresh sushi delivery. In some large markets, Peapod tailors offerings to reflect hometown tastes. For instance, in Chicago, they offer frozen Gino’s East Pizza.
Peapod works with local suppliers to fill their state-of-the art food center. Place your order before 8pm, and a Peapod personal shopper will fill your order and have it ready to deliver as early as the next day. Here’s how to use Peapod:
1. Sign Up
Enter your email as your username and create a password. Registration is free, and once you sign up, you are not obligated to buy from Peapod, though most people who sign up do ultimately place orders.
Peapod will not share your information unless it is necessary to fill your order with a third-party vendor. Peapod, like many other online retailers, utilizes cookies to track your purchases. This allows you to return to the site at a later date and pull up a previous order.
2. Choose Your Shopping Method
If you would like to shop quickly, choose Express Shopping and simply type or paste your grocery list into the list box. Next, pick your grocery items from the selections available. For instance, if you have ham lunch meat on your grocery list, you can choose between brands such as Applegate, Boar’s Head, Krakus, and Sarah Lee, in addition to choosing between smoked, honey-sweetened, brown sugar, and reduced sodium.
Peapod will keep your list so when you return for future shopping “trips” your list will be available. Furthermore, when shopping, you can select past shopping purchases to speed up the shopping process. This is a great benefit if you buy certain items regularly.
If you would like a more leisurely shopping experience, choose “browse aisles.” On the sidebar, you will find categories for groceries such as “general grocery,” “produce,” and “the deli,” among others. When you click on a subcategory, Peapod will show the items in that category that are on sale – you can click on other subcategory links to see all items available.
3. Track Your Purchases, Savings, and Current Bill
As you add items to your virtual cart, you will see both the item description and the total purchased in the right-hand side bar. You will also see the total price and, if you have added any items that are on sale, the total amount you have saved.
When you click on the link for each product, you will see a small pop-up screen that shows you the nutritional label as well as suggested items you might want to buy.
4. Review Your Order
When you are done choosing items, simply click “review order.” You will see your entire order and have the opportunity to change the quantity of each item, or to eliminate particular items. In addition, you will see your total bill including the groceries, delivery fee, fuel surcharge, and tax. You will also see your total amount saved.
5. Choose Your Delivery Date and Time
Peapod offers shoppers the opportunity to have their groceries delivered as soon as the following day (this option is usually available if the order is placed before 8pm), to as late as two weeks from the order date. They offer delivery seven days a week, from as early as 6am to as late as 10pm. Simply choose a two-hour window that is most convenient.
Peapod also offers you the chance to ask for an unattended delivery. If you can’t be home for the delivery, choose this method and simply tell Peapod at which secure location you would like the groceries to be left, and Peapod will pack the groceries in refrigerated boxes to keep your items fresh. The next time you order, leave the refrigerated boxes out for your driver. If you don’t return the boxes, you will be charged $5 per box and $1 per ice pack.
6. Choose a Payment Method
You must put your credit card information on file when you begin the checkout process, but when you check out, you can choose between paying by credit card or paying by check withdrawal. As an added incentive to pay by checking account withdrawal, Peapod will give you $5 off your first order and $1 off each additional order paid via check withdrawal.
Peapod utilizes VeriSign to encrypt and protect all of your personal information, and your information is stored in a secure data center.
Cost and Pricing
Peapod does charge a delivery fee, which is partly calculated according to the amount of groceries you order. If you buy more than $100 in groceries, your delivery fee is $6.95. An order between $75 and $100 has a $7.95 delivery fee, and an order between $60 and $75 has a $9.95 delivery fee. There is a minimum order amount of $60.
However, there are ways to lower your delivery fee. While there are a wide range of delivery times available, some windows of time offer a $1 discount. These are often delivery times that are in a four-hour window instead of a two-hour window, though Peapod will contact you to give you your two-hour estimated time of arrival within the four-hour window.
Another way to lower the delivery cost is to have your groceries delivered every other week, or only once per month, which reduces the amount of times you need to pay a delivery fee. If you want to do your part to help the environment, Peapod also identifies “greener” delivery dates and times, which will help them bundle all deliveries in a certain geographical area on the same date.
Peapod is currently offering a special to new users. Place your first order over $100, and Peapod will give you a special code good for free delivery on all orders placed during the first 60 days after signing up.
- Use Filters for Easier Shopping. Shopping with Peapod is already easy, but they seek to make it even easier by offering the “Nutrifilter” feature, which allows you to filter the grocery offerings to prioritize or eliminate certain items from the choices you are offered. Filters to choose from include weekly specials, new items, and nutrition, to name a few. For instance, if you have special dietary needs, you can choose the Nutrifilter and filter for dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, and peanut-free items. Other Nutrifilters include healthy ideas, good fiber, low fat, and low sodium.
- Use Coupons to Lower Your Cost. In addition to identifying sales items, Peapod also lets customers use manufacturer’s grocery coupons. Simply clip them and give them to the delivery driver, and the total amount for the valid coupons will be credited to your account. Online coupons are also available at Peapod.com.
- Benefit From a Flexible Ordering and Delivery Process. Peapod offers great flexibility. You can place your order from the comfort of your home whenever you like, and you can choose the delivery time that best suits you.
- Enjoy a Reliable Delivery Schedule. I have shopped with Peapod several times, and in each instance my delivery was on time. Also, the driver carries all of your groceries into the house.
- Limit Impulse Buys. Many people are guilty of making impulse buys when grocery shopping. Grocery stores are arranged to appeal to the impulses of consumers, but you can avoid the temptation by shopping online. Furthermore, many people do not add up their purchases as they put items into their cart. Peapod, however, keeps a running total as you add items to your cart, making it easy to stick to a set grocery budget.
- Customer Service Is Easy to Contact. Unlike some companies that make you search their website for contact information, Peapod makes their customer service number readily available, and finding information about your order is very simple. Your driver can also help you troubleshoot if you have problems with your order – which, from my experience, is rare.
- Sale Prices Are Only Valid for a Week. If you place an order for items on sale and would like it to be delivered 10 days from the order date, you will not receive the sale prices since the items are no longer on sale when the delivery is made. Pay close attention to the dates that sales end, and make sure to have your items delivered before the sale is over.
- You Must Pay Attention to Price. Peapod’s produce listings are not always uniform. For instance, you may find three pounds of McIntosh apples on sale for $3.99, but the Rome apples are listed on sale at $0.50 per apple. The variation in pricing is a bit deceptive; carefully read quantities to avoid any surprises.
- Peapod Won’t Save You as Much as Cherry-Picking the Sales. If you are someone who shops at several stores a week picking the best bargains, you probably won’t save as much using Peapod. While Peapod does have good sales – such as a recent sale of Birds Eye frozen vegetable steamers for $1.00 a bag – their prices are not as low as loss leaders advertised at brick-and-mortar stores. To save money on groceries, you may want to stick to your local shops.
- May Not Have All of the Items You Would Like to Buy. While Peapod has an excellent selection that rivals many supermarkets, there are some items you may not be able to find. For instance, while they do offer Just For Men hair dye, I did not find hair dye for women. Therefore, even if you use Peapod, you may still have to venture to a grocery store every now and then.
Since Peapod offers free shipping for the first 60 days after your initial trial, it is worthwhile to try it for a month or two. Just like shopping at a brick-and-mortar store, you may not be able to buy everything you need at rock bottom prices. Yet if you search diligently and load up your cart with sale items, you should be able to get good deals, week-after-week.
If you give it a try and decide Peapod is not for you, there is no obligation, and you are not tied to a membership fee or any other subscription. You can simply stop shopping at Peapod.
Have you used Peapod? How does it compare to shopping at the local grocery store?