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The Chicago Tribune reports that Ahold-owned Peapod, the e-grocery retailer, is making a broad commitment to the concept of virtual supermarkets that can reach out to customers in high-traffic locations. The concept - similar to one pioneered by Tesco in South Korea - allows people to shop by using a smartphone application to make purchases from billboards that feature pictures of products and QR codes, and then have the products delivered to their homes or offices.

According to the story, Peapod is "expanding its interactive virtual supermarket concept to 17 different train and subway stations in the Chicago area, beginning today." And, "Virtual shelves will also go up over the next week at dozens of stations in Boston, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington, according to a Peapod spokeswoman."

Peapod tested the concept in Chicago earlier this year, and is expanding it because it saw sales increases for products featured on the billboards.
KC's View:
From the very first time that I saw video of this system in action, I thought that it was insanely cool ... and the harbinger of a trend likely to take hold. I hate to quote myself, but here's what I wrote some time back...

"The lesson here seems clear - that more and more, companies are finding ways to communicate with shoppers outside the confines of the store, while at the same time, shoppers are looking for ways to shop without actually going to the store. It is an enormous challenge to traditional retailers, which have to find ways to lure shoppers into the store, or find ways to reach beyond their traditional borders."