While online shopping is no longer novel, many of us are still unfamiliar with making purchases on our phones. One company in South Korea is pushing the idea of virtual consumerism even further by launching a virtual supermarket that is being tested in Seoul subway stations.
The subway station convenience store has rows of billboards displaying pictures of food and drink. What many would not understand without looking closer, however, is that those pictures are not just advertisements for food – they are an entire supermarket that shoppers can access with their smart phones.
Homeplus, a South Korean affiliate of grocery giants Tesco, said that this virtual market is designed mainly for younger people.
Jo Hyuan Jae, the project co-ordinator for Homeplus, says that young Koreans are relying more and more on smartphones to get their daily tasks done easily.
He has data to back him up, as well: earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported that there were more than 10 million smartphone subscribers in South Korea. These figures came as a drastic climb from just a few hundred thousand in 2009.
Jo Hyuan Jae also says that the Homeplus customer is extremely busy and may not have time to go to the supermarket when they need to shop.
With the virtual market, customers can download the Homeplus app, go up to the pictures of over 500 of the most popular items, and scan the QR, or Quick Response code.
Once the code is scanned, the picture of the product comes up on the phone asking customers to confirm the size of the product and the time and place of delivery.
Homeplus even vows to deliver groceries on the same day if the order is placed before 13:00.
The grocery chain revealed that they are planning to put more virtual stores in other underground train stations, specifically those by the city’s universities.