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The Chicago Tribune reports that Ahold-owned Peapod, the online grocery service, plans to open "three locations in the Chicago area this year where customers can pick up their orders rather than waiting for home delivery."

While Peapod is associated with bricks-and-mortar retailing in markets where Ahold has stores, in Chicago the company has always been a kind of pure-play offering online ordering and delivery services.

It is only in the last couple of weeks that Peapod has started testing a pick-up model - first at a Stop & Shop store in the Boston area, and now with planned locations in Palatine, Schaumburg, and Deerfield, Illinois.

The story notes that "the freestanding pick-up locations will be the company's second experiment this year to broaden its customer base. In May, it rolled out interactive grocery store 'shelves' at the CTA's State and Lake station. Consumers were able to use their smart phones to scan and buy items and have them delivered the next day. That program ended in July but a new version of it is expected in the fall."
KC's View:
The lesson here is clear. To compete for today's customers, one has to offer a broad suite of services. It is giving the customer what she wants, where she wants it, how she wants it, at a price she thinks is appropriate. This may be the only approach to being relevant in today's retail environment.