Tesco, one of the largest supermarket chains in South Korea changed its name to Homeplus. After the re-branding, they began installing “supermarkets” in subway stations. These were not actual supermarket stores, but instead they were virtual isles with sheets of photorealistic paper displaying the precise picture recreations of grocery store isles. These virtual isles where located where pedestrians would spend some time waiting for the subway to arrive. Each product on the virtual isles has a QR codes, so costumers could scan these QR codes with their phones and the purchased items would then be automatically delivered to their homes.
South Korea is a very hard working country and people usually spend a very long time at work and when they leave work they are exhausted and probably have little time to shop. So Home Plus saw a major opportunity to provide both stress relief and time saving for their busy costumers. The virtual aisles let people make the most of downtime spent waiting for their train to arrive, and providing easy and fast delivering services.
As a result the virtual grocery store attracted over 10,000 new customers and boomed Home Plus’s online sales by 130 percent. Home Plus, is now number first online and second in offline grocery sales in the country.
After the huge success of these virtual isles on subway stations, a small virtual shop opened, it offers over 500 different items on the shelves. Here all the costumers have to do is point their smartphones at the QR codes to scan and the product will be in the virtual kart and then home, rather than carry a heavy grocery kart through the supermarket.
This has not only been revolutionary for online shopping services, but for today’s technology which has enabled an incredibly fast and convenient way of shopping anywhere in the city. But in contrast the “shopping experience” of being able to physically grab the product and check nutritional facts will not be possible. People will be buying groceries simply based on a photo of the product.
So what happens when you are trying to buy fruits? How do you pick the ripe fruit from the un-ripened ones according to your taste? In this case the store is the one that decides which exact product you receive. All and all it’s very convenient to put virtual isles on subway stations, for costumers to shop while waiting for the train; but how convenient is it really to have a store with no physical products? Why not just shop online from home if that is the case?