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Following a successful test in several cities earlier this year, is enabling commuters to use their smartphones to make purchases at participating locations. has launched 102 virtual grocery stores at commuter rail stations in seven regions. Commuters in these areas will be able to shop a variety of brands using their smartphones while waiting for the train, including Barilla, Coca-Cola, Kimberly Clark, Proctor & Gamble and Reckitt Benckiser.

“Our mobile app downloads increased pretty dramatically during the tests in Chicago and in Philly vs. other markets during the same time periods,” said Elana Margolis, director of corporate communications at, Chicago. “The tests helped us to confirm what we already suspected, grocery shopping on the go via the mobile app is a big convenience for a lot of our customers.

“Commuters spend 200-plus hours each year commuting to and from the office, why not offer them a way to check something off of the to-do list?” she said.

Grocery shopping made easy
The other markets where the virtual grocery stores have launched are Chicago, Philadelphia and Connecticut.

Commuters at train stations in these areas will be able to use an iPhone, iPad or Android device to scan a 2D bar code on a billboard to shop a selection of items, place an order and schedule a home-delivery time.

Users can also access the entire selection of more than 11,000 items available at

Users will be able to scan a QR code on the billboards to download the free PeapodMobile app that enables them to shop. First-time customers will need to register on in order to complete their first PeapodMobile order on their smartphones.

The billboards feature different items in different areas.

The East Coast virtual stores feature everyday staples such as coffee, condiments and cleaning products, soft drinks, snacks and cereal, milk and bread, health and beauty products and fresh fruits and vegetables.

In Chicago, the billboards feature a selection of prepared foods sourced from 30 local brands, such as Wildfire, Big Bowl, Eli’s cheesecake and Chicago Butter Cookies., which is run by supermarket company Ahold USA – is the leading Internet grocer, serving 24 markets in the United States.

Commuter convenience
The retailer found that commuters in the markets where it is launching the virtual grocery stores spend an hour on average in transit to and from work each day. wants to give commuters a way to make the most of that time by making it easy for them to start their grocery shopping and schedule home deliveries.

“This is the time of year when customers start to get busy, kids are back in school, the weather starts to change and customers realize that they are time starved,” Ms. Margolis said. “That’s where can step in and help.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York