Friday, August 31, 2007

Peapod Gets It Right!

As I am quite sure that there will be loads of bitterness ahead in upcoming posts as I try to get my phone issue figured out, I figured I should provide proof that I do actually think some companies and services are excellent. One example is Peapod - the grocery delivery company. When I was without a car and far away from stores while at graduate school in Boston, I discovered Peapod and then kept using them once I got back to Chicago (still without a car). While I did enjoy looking like a dork pushing my Granny Cart to and from the supermarket in the pre-graduate school years, it killed my back and was nearly impossible to pull off in the depths of winter.

So now, even in the summer, I use Peapod for almost all of my food-buying needs. If they (or a service like them) exist near where you live, you should try them out, even if you do have a car! Here is my case for Peapod:

1) They remember your orders. stores every separate order you've ever made through its site, as well as combines everything you've ever bought into one huge "jumbo order." So upon return visits, you just pull up the jumbo order list and put a check mark in the box next to any item you want once again. Lazy people and/or people with no memory, rejoice!

2) The search engine on their site is actually really good.
You can type in a brand name, a type of food, or something fairly obscure and it will come back with a list of categories or products that could be matches, and I've always been able to find what I was looking for. Even though the web isn't exactly a new-fangled thing anymore, it's frustrating how many sites out there still have awful search capabilities (or none at all). Peapod invested wisely in search functionality.

3) You can use coupons and take advantages of sale prices, just like in a regular store.
I think a big reason why some people may be afraid to try a service like Peapod is that they fear it may be a lot more expensive. That simply isn't true. Their prices are the same, if not better, than what you will find at your local market.

4) You often don't have to pay any delivery fee.
They have so many promotions running over the course of a year, I think I've only paid the $6.95 delivery fee (for orders over $100) about 30% of the time.

5) They have nearly everything you could find in a "real" grocery store and are adding more every day.
My husband likes this certain kind of juice that they didn't sell on Peapod. So we would always trek to the grocery store to get it every few weeks. Now Peapod has it, hooray! You can even send them messages about certain products you would like them to start stocking. If you don't know what you're looking for, there are pictures and ingredient/label information for about 90% of things sold, and the site is organized into logical, intuitive sections. One of the things I was worried about when I first starting using them was the quality of fruits and vegetables they would bring - but time after time I have found that what they deliver is always better than what I've been able to pick out myself in person. They also have non-food items that you would typically find in a grocery store (cleaning products, storage products, balloons, etc). I've even gotten flowers from them a few times and they were great. I guarantee that you can find things easier on than you could in your average grocery store. No more wandering around the aisles whining, "Where in the hell is the cinnamon? I just want cinnamon, is that so wrroooooong?"

6) Their delivery process is organized and simple and they always come in the time period in which they're supposed to.
After you've entered in your order, you move on to a screen where you select the delivery time you want. You don't even have to be at home if you don't want to! Usually there is a two-hour window that you can choose from at almost any time of the day or into the night. I have now used Peapod dozens of times and never once have the drivers not been on time - and we're talking through snow, hail, sleet storms, you name it.

7) They have great customer service.
When Peapod arrives with a delivery, it's a big deal at my place. My dog goes NUTS when he hears the buzzer, and I have to hold him back when the guy starts bringing in the bags of food. I think I have met all of the drivers now, and they are all incredibly friendly. We all know how rare it is in this age of snarkiness for any employee of any store you go into to actually be helpful, much less smiling. The Peapod guys could be slugging bags around in over-100-degree weather or getting soaked in the pouring rain, but they are always nice and happy to serve you. On top of that, if you have a problem with your order, they don't hassle you about it. There has been only one time that something I ordered wasn't in the delivery but yet I was charged for it. I realized it after the guy had left, so I called the customer service line, got right through to a human, and they were like, "OK, those charges have been removed." WHAT?!?!? Just like that?!?! They didn't need me to fill out a form or take digital pictures of my fridge without the items in it or send back the grocery bags or get the driver to sign something in blood? They just gave me back the money since it was their mistake?!? Unheard of!

8) You will spend less money if you order online.
You've probably read the studies about how if you shop with a grocery list, you will spend less money than if you wander around browsing the aisles and picking up a whole bunch of crap you don't need. Well, that same concept applies to ordering groceries online. The "jumbo list" I mentioned earlier makes it that much easier for you to stick with the essentials. For those of you who think you would miss seeing the latest and greatest in food creations, rest assured that they have a "What's New" section of the site, as well as the ability to "browse aisles" if you don't know what you want. Now that I'm spending so much time at home and therefore eating in more often, I knew I needed to branch out a bit and so with a few clicks, I had put a few "Chef's Creations" (meals you just need to warm up geared toward people like me who cannot/will not/should not cook) into my virtual basket. But if I was in a store, I would've wound up with 5 tubs of the newest ice cream flavors!

Happy shopping,
- e

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