Tuesday 28 June 2011

Tesco Virtual Commuter-shop, a killer-app?

Tesco Korea have used mobile phones to create what might be the most clever use of mobile barcodes. By combining QR Codes, smartphones and Tesco’s existing home delivery service, it has transformed a South Korean subway station into a convenience store.

In Korea, Tesco Home Plus faced tough competition from market leader E-Mart,who have a far greater number of retail locations than Tesco. So Tesco decided to apply technology to the problem, and came up with a really smart solution: virtual shops.

Tesco has placed large billboard-style ads in a metro-station in South Korea. The ads are designed to look like shelves in a grocery store – as you pass by, you see the goods lined up as if you were in a store:

Every item has a QR Code beneath it. To add the item to your shopping basket, you simply scan the QR Code with your phone. When you’ve finished shopping, you send your list to Tesco’s on-line delivery service, and they will bring it straight to your home.

Deliveries are arranged to arrive in minutes or hours, rather than days, so the groceries will be in the shopper’s kitchen that night and there is no need to wait in to collect them.

Just like everybody else, South Koreans are busy at home and tired after a long day at work so offering the opportunity to shop while doing something else has a lot of value. Tesco settled on commuters waiting for their train: they have time on their hands and the most have jobs, so they’re likely to have money but little time.

A killer-app for any commuter-hub, anywhere…

Add-on ideas:

- Escalator-ads: a good use for the unused space beside the hand-belt and wall?

- Platform-ads: how about making them mobile, with a slow-scroll down every aisle?

NB. To work in the UK, two vital pieces of infrastructure would be required: mobile connectivity on all forms of public transport, including the tube networks in London, Glasgow and other cities, and a fleet of delivery vans set up for fast reactions.

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