Video: Virtual Grocery Lets Koreans Browse Grocery Aisles While Waiting for the Subway

Kristina Bjoran

Shopping on the go just got easier in South Korea. A new virtual store developed by Euro grocery giant Tesco for its line of South Korean Home Plus supermarkets lets customers browse store shelves for the products they want just as if they were in a physical store. But they’re not. They’re on a subway platform.

The virtual store has been a huge success among the 10,000 or so customers who have taken advantage of the service, which allows busy workaday South Koreans engaged in their daily commutes to optimize their time by shopping while they wait for the train. Tesco has simply plastered the walls of a subway station with visual recreations of grocery aisles. Each item has a QR code emblazoned on it. Snap that code with the Home Plus smartphone app, and it goes straight into the virtual shopping cart.

Customers can then check out via their smartphones as they step onto their morning trains. The groceries are delivered to their homes that evening at a specified time, saving office drones the added hassle of braving a crowded supermarket during the late-day rush.

This is not the first online grocery shopping scheme by a longshot, but it’s the first we’ve heard of that combines a virtual in-store experience with an online checkout and delivery system while also making the most out of those wasted morning minutes spent on the train platform. That’s good for both user and grocer alike. Users get the added value of a more efficient workday and an easier-to-acquire dinner. And just imagine the targeted advertising opportunities.

Technology Review