You May Not Recognize The Very First Online Grocery Service

In the age of Uber Eats, most of us are probably familiar with the idea of scrolling through our favorite delivery app when we don't feel like running out to the grocery store and cooking after a long day at work. According to recent statistics, the number of shoppers turning to the internet to purchase their family's weekly groceries in lieu of heading to traditional storefronts has skyrocketed in the years following the pandemic (via Insider Intelligence).

With companies like Amazon opening up innovative new ways for customers to shop online, such as the company's Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh stores, the digital grocery trend doesn't seem to be showing any signs of slowing down. While the trend might seem like a recent invention, entrepreneurs in the retail and marketing industries have actually been working for decades to make the grocery shopping experience more convenient for shoppers. Most of us might not think of the 1980s as a period of innovation for online shopping, but in reality, the prototype for the first online grocery app came about in 1989.

Peapod was ahead of its time

Back before most Americans had personal computers in their homes, a technology company called Peapod started by brothers Andrew and Thomas Parkinson quietly became the world's first online grocery delivery service, about 30 years ahead of its time. The company's innovations would go on to set the stage for the multi-million dollar grocery industry we see today, Stacker reports.

Customers would use a CD-ROM to load the Peapod program on their computers, where they could then place grocery orders directly from a store called Jewel. Just like the grocery delivery apps of today, customers' orders would be received by the store and sent directly to each shopper's home.

Peapod still operates today as Peapod Digital Labs and is responsible for providing the grocery delivery technology behind some of the industry's largest brands, including Giant Food, Stop & Shop, and Food Lion. The next time you place a grocery order after coming home from work, there's a chance you could have the people at Peapod to thank for the convenience.