The grocery delivery space is moving far beyond the task of bringing fresh kale and imported cheese to your doorstep. Merely offering the luxury and convenience of avoiding crowded grocery aisles is no longer enough to woo time-starved consumer, who now has myriad choices when it comes to selecting a personal supermarket shopper.

If it’s tech inspired bells and whistles you want, Peapod, a 28-year veteran of the grocery delivery wars, is attempting to boost its sagging growth by adding a new text-to-order tool. Dubbed “Chat to Cart,” consumers can create lists on their phone via text (not to mention voice-to-text or emojis) and send them over to Peapod for fulfillment. The new feature was developed by Chicago-based online shopping tools developer, StorePower.

To use the service, customers text the toll-free number, 1-833-TXT-PPOD and provide a list of products by name or by emoji symbol. The service includes an option to share the shopping list among family members who can add products to the order. After an initial order, or once the number is saved, orders can be placed via Siri or Google Assistant.

“At Peapod, we have always been committed to being the ultimate convenience for our customers,” said Cat De Merode, Peapod’s VP of product in a company release. “The Chat-to-Cart platform was designed for the busy shopper that relies on their mobile device whether at home or on the go. Now, instead of texting a family member to pick up an extra gallon of milk, you can text Peapod and let us do the work. The texting functionality complements the Peapod mobile app and desktop website for one seamless ordering process.”

While digitally based grocery shopping makes up only 3.8% of the grocery retailing market, researchers see a bright future.  Packaged Facts, based in Rockville, MD., believes online grocery sales will go grow from a CAGR of more than 27% over the next five years. By 2022, the company says online sales of grocery items may be worth as much as $42 billion annually.

Peapod’s owner, Dutch-based Ahold Delhaize would like the digital delivery service to contribute more to its overall bottom line. In its most recent quarter, Ahold’s ecommerce revenue was up 20% but Peapod grew in the single digits. Company officials claim its various supermarkets, such as Food Lion, have not successfully integrated Peapod into their services.

Putting aside specialty delivery services such as Farmstead, players in the online grocery/delivery market are running low on competitive factors. Advances such as Walmart’s partnering with Google Home to gain access to their voice-enabled assistants does precious little to create any distinction among the Peapods, Instacarts and Shipts of the world (not to mention store-branded delivery services). Blurring the lines even further is the growing overlap between grocery and restaurant delivery with such all-purpose digitally powered, food-to-home services as Postmates promising speedy grocery services in New York.

That $42 billion revenue figure for grocery delivery sounds like a hefty prize, but the question remains—how much will go to the one-two punch of Amazon/Whole Foods and how many remaining companies will be spending millions to grab minor slivers of market share.

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Allen Weiner is an Austin-based freelance writer focusing on applications of new technology in the areas of food, media and education. In his 17-year career as a vice president and analyst with Gartner, Inc., the world’s largest IT research and advisory firm, Allen was a frequent speaker at company and industry events as well as one of the most-quoted analysts in the area of new media. With an extensive background in publishing and publishing technology, Allen is noted as the founder of The Gate (, the nation’s first daily newspaper on the web. Born in Philadelphia, Allen is a graduate of Muhlenberg College and Temple University.

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