July 12, 2011
Worlds Collide with digital aisles at Korean subway stations
Home Plus, the Korean arm of supermarket super-giant Tesco, is enabling smartphone-equipped commuters to browse for grocery items while waiting for the subway. Sheets of photorealistic billboard paper display pictures of the goods, along with QR codes. Shoppers pay on the spot, and the goods are waiting when consumers gets home. It’s a great example of Worlds Colliding, one of our 10 Trends for 2011—the idea that technology is blurring the lines between the physical and digital worlds.
South Korea is one of the hardest working countries in the world, and its people are “overworked, overstressed and ever anxious,” as The New York Times reports; shopping is a serious speed bump in consumers’ schedules. Home Plus tapped a major opportunity to provide both stress relief and time savings. The virtual aisles let people make the most of downtime spent waiting for a train, bringing the goods to consumers where they happen to be. Brands that help consumers save time with tools that make life simpler will build considerable loyalty. For Home Plus, this resulted in the physical supermarket chain becoming the second biggest online shopping outlet in Korea. The company reports that sales spiked 130 percent in three months, and registered users increased by 76 percent. The retailer is also closing in on South Korea’s biggest supermarket in offline sales, perhaps because the virtual aisles double as out-of-home ads.