By Sam Parker
Miles and piles of produce? Soul-draining fluorescent lights? Apathetic, mop-haired youths in polo shirts? You must be shopping for groceries, a particularly un-fun form of shopping little changed from the first aisle-based supermarkets. But South Korean supermarket chain Homeplus has implemented an easier method of grocery shopping for busy commuters.
After questioning how to become No. 1 in South Korea’s online market without increasing the number of stores, the outlet turned its subway advertising into a way for commuters to shop while they wait for their train. In the form of shopping walls, these 2D ads consist of rows of different grocery items, laid out on glass panels just as they appear on the shelves of actual stores. The ads are placed where individuals normally stand while waiting for the arrival of the subway trains. Each item has a corresponding Quick Response (QR) code below it that commuters scan using their mobile phones.
How Homeplus Customers Buy Their Groceries Online
With the help of the Homeplus smartphone app, compatible with both iPhone and Android devices, customers create shopping lists and select the “Buy Now” button once they are satisfied with the contents of their carts. After purchasing their groceries, commuters can then have them delivered to their doorways by the time they arrive home that evening. “Stores make deliveries every two hours, for a total of 10 distinct delivery times per day,” aTechnoBuffalo article states. “Delivery fees are cheap, ranging from 1,000 won ($0.94) to 4,000 won ($3.76).”
However, if individuals are unable to finish their shopping before the train arrives, they can continue to fill their baskets without the pictures or codes.
“South Korea has more than 10 million smartphone users in a population of less than 50 million,” according to The Telegraph, so it seemed logical for parent company Tesco to implement this mobile shopping system. Because the country’s subway system also already provided mobile connectivity to users, Homeplus did not have to modify any major pieces of the infrastructure.
After a short period of time, it was evident the campaign was well received; previously frozen as South Korea’s No. 2 online supermarket, Homeplus’s new system boosted the company to the No. 1 spot over competitor E-Mart.
“Their sales increased 130 percent in three months, and their number of registered users went up by 76 per cent,” The Telegraph said. “They are now number one for online groceries and the gap between them and E-Mart has narrowed offline.”
With over 900,000 downloads since its launch last April, the Home plus application is now the No. 1 mobile app in Korea, according to Industry Intelligence Inc.
Orders are placed most heavily between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Home plus says, when people are commuting to and from work.
Because of the highly positive responses amongst subway commuters, Tesco’s Home plus is now branching out to bus shelters as well. According to 2d code, 20 South Korean bus stops will soon display smaller versions of the grocery aisles.
Although South Korea is a much smaller, denser country with better mass transit and Internet connectivity, it’s not hard to see a similar system succeeding in a major U.S. city, although no plans have been announced to bring a similar system to our shores.