Peapod unveils mobile 'virtual grocery store' concept

CHICAGO — Less than a year after it unveiled its "virtual grocery store" concept at commuter rail stations in Chicago and the Northeast, online grocer Peapod is taking the idea on the road in a new promotional campaign.

Peapod, a division of Ahold USA, will field trucks installed with digital billboards of grocery aisles at community recreation centers, coffee sleeves at local cafes, concert venues and other places. The trucks will travel to Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Boston and New York. The billboards will allow users to scan a QR code to download the PeapodMobile app to their smartphones and then scan other QR codes to shop for items.

"We all know how challenging it can be to get the attention of consumers in a meaningful way," Peapod COO Mike Brennan said. "When we piloted the virtual stores last fall, we found that the advertising stopped people — it engaged them, and we saw mobile app downloads as a result. This go-round, we're exploring new, hyper-local platforms to communicate our convenience message of 'Shop Anywhere, Anytime with Peapod.'"

Stops will include such sports stadiums as Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and other areas like Cafe Benvenuto in New York and concerts by BonJovi, One Direction and Justin Timberlake in Chicago. Items for sale include Barilla pasta, Coca-Cola products and fresh foods.

The retailer will also have a "human billboard" campaign distributing T-shirts and a 2014 Chevrolet Spark outfitted to look like a shopping cart that will cruise the streets of Chicago.