Tesco’s South Korean network of shops, called Home Plus, have grown to become the country’s second-largest supermarket after E-Mart since launching in 1999, but number two is never enough for Tesco. How, they asked themselves, can we become number one?
One way, they reasoned, is to expand their online sales rather than spending a lot of money opening new shops. As South Korea has more than 10 million smartphone users in a population of less than 50 million, it made sense to look at mobile shopping as much as websites for desktops.
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 must have jobs, so they’re likely to have money but little time.
Rather than expect them to search through menus labelled with tiny text that says such unattractive things as ‘fish’ or ‘homeware’, they plastered the glass walls of subway stations with pictures of their products, laid out just as they’d be in a traditional shop. The ‘shelves’ featured QR codes – squares filled with a black and white pattern, unique to the product in question, they’re a more versatile successor to the bar code – which could be scanned by the traveller’s mobile phone, building up a shopping basket in the few minutes before the train arrives. If your train comes before your basket is complete, you can carry on shopping without the pictures and codes if you wish.
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.
The application was developed with Cheil Worldwide, an advertising and online development group.
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. At the time of writing, the earliest available slot for a delivery to my address in London is on Wednesday afternoon.
Most of the big supermarkets in the UK have mobile-optimised websites for online shopping and Ocado’s iPhone app has won several awards, but Home Plus’s subway poster shops pushed the idea of mobile shopping into the minds of people who could use it right where they are, right now. Their sales increased 130 per cent in three months, and their number of registered users went up by 76 per cent. They are now number one for online groceries and the gap between them and E-Mart has narrowed offline. Whether you see their virtual stores as a display advertising campaign or a new way of building supermarkets in spaces that already exist, that’s a remarkable achievement.
Source : The Telegraph