Business Trends

Video Highlights Virtual Groceries in South Korean Subway

File Type: Free Content, Article
Release Date: September 2013
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virtual grocery store panel

Anyone who enjoys eating but hates food shopping will love a new virtual food store concept emerging in South Korea. Check this video for details.

In 2011, British multinational grocery chain Tesco — one of the world’s largest retailers — was the No. 2 supermarket chain in South Korea. Tesco wanted to overtake its top competitor, E-Mart, but did not want to compete brick-and-mortar store by store. Instead, it decided to change its name to Homeplus and invent a better mousetrap; in this case, a new virtual food store for South Korean subway stations.

The virtual grocery features large food graphics on the walls of subway stations — similar to the print advertising one typically sees in transit stations, that replicate shelves and bins in real supermarkets. A passerby can look at the ripe peaches, chopped meat, fresh eggs or colorful vegetables and order them by pointing his smartphone at the item’s barcode or QR code. The order is delivered to his residence later that day, just after he gets home. Trudging to the supermarket, navigating aisles clogged with shopping carts, standing in long checkout lines and then transporting the food back home are all things of the past. Weekly food shopping can be done in just a few minutes, during the morning or evening commute.

How has Tesco Homeplus’s online food shopping venture fared? It is attracting Korea’s tired, hungry and time-pressed. During its initial campaign, sales increased tremendously as 10,287 consumers visited the Tesco Homeplus online mall using a smartphone. The number of new online Tesco Homeplus members increased by 76 percent, and online sales jumped 130 percent. The following year, Tesco Homeplus announced plans to expand the number of virtual stores by installing them at more than 20 bus stops. Maybe there is a lesson here for Amazon and Walmart, both of which are trying to perfect same-day delivery.