Peapod Test Drive

peapod.bmpAs someone who loves and relies on the convenience of online shopping, it’s probably surprising that grocery delivery isn’t part of our routine. But following my post about Stop & Shop’s overhaul, Peapod asked whether I’d be interested in evaluating their service, and as a one-car family eager for less errands, it seemed worth investigating. Here’s what I found during my online reconnaissance mission:

Browsing interface. Peapod’s browsing interface is solid; the online organization of their stock is sensible and I especially like that there are separate natural/organic sections within each department (e.g., produce, health & beauty). Since I defaulted to shopping those sections, it made the experience very easy.

One element that I would like to see improved, though, is in the right checkout column. The shopping cart items and running total are displayed, but the individual item prices are not shown. It made comparison shopping cumbersome, as I needed to go back to the original item listings to compare prices.

Availability. Stock availability in general was good, but not as good as in-store for my preferred natural and organic departments (the organic produce section in particular was very limited). Also, when I typed in my 13 digit Stop & Shop card number – which retrieves your shopping history to make online shopping easier - I was surprised to see only a dozen or so items available online from my in-store history.

Speed. I loved how easy and fast the Peapod experience was from start to finish. Shopping and checkout were quick and easy (especially since I targeted the natural and organic grocery sections), and there were plenty of time windows for next day delivery. Another nice feature is that you can make changes to your order until just before midnight. On the receiving end, the delivery person arrived right in the specified time window and was very courteous.

Quality of perishables. For my test mission I decided to order potentially problematic perishables, such as meat and delicate produce (e.g., grapes, strawberries, tomatoes), and I must say that I was really impressed by the quality. The meat arrived very cold (i.e., nixing my mental image of meat trays sweltering in the back of a truck), and the produce in great shape; as in, same quality as I would have selected myself at the store.

Overall cost. The online and store prices seemed comparable, so the one element families would need to weigh is if the shipping & fuel charges are worth the convenience factor. The delivery fee is $9.95 for orders under $100, and $6.95 for orders over $100. For my order under $100 the fuel surcharge was about $1.

Summary. While Peapod still doesn’t solve my aforementioned conundrum of acquiring all of my natural and organic needs from one supplier (at reasonable produce prices), the quality of the experience in general was very good. I think Peapod is a great solution for urban dwellers without a car, or those who want to streamline their routine and forego trips to the grocery store, particularly if you need to place a large order, in which case it would be really nice to have someone deliver and haul in your groceries for you.

A final note: one feature that could really sway me over as a regular Peapod shopper is if there was a paper bag option, or some way for regular shoppers to have groceries delivered in cloth totes that you could swap back in on your next delivery.

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The folks at Peapod kindly are offering a discount code for Boston Mamas readers who'd like to try the online service; use code BLOGPOST17 at checkout for $20 off your order (first time users only).