05 Sep Shopping will never be the same – world’s first virtual store opens in south korea
A whole new revolution of shopping experience has begun with the launch of a new “Homeplus Smart Virtual Store” opening today at Seolleung subway station in Seoul, Korea. These virtual shopping stores are now dubbed as the “fourth generation retail store” because customers can now use their smartphones and scan QR codes via a mobile app to purchase daily items on-the-go. How awesome is that?
Homeplus, South Korea’s second largest discount retail chain (owned by Samsung and Tesco) is definitely breaking a new trend as customers can order right off their mobile smartphones from the subway station with the Homeplus App and get the items delivered to their doorsteps.
Why Korea? Why Subway Station?
The four-year project has finally come to fruition! Homeplus CEO Lee Seung-han, who originally had the idea in 2008, said “ it chose Seolleung station for its trial store because over 200,000 commuters use it every day”. On top of that, according to the Korea Communications Commission, the number of smartphone users is expected to skyrocket in the latter half of this year and smartphones are usually used at subway and bus stations. That makes sense.
How does the Business model work?
This system works under a “order-and-delivery” model, ensuring delivery to customers is up to par and charging back the customers from delivery fee. Delivery time is flexible based on the customers’ requests, and usually a Homeplus store close to a customer’s address will deliver the products.
How will this affect the future?
There are always good and bads. How do customers get ensured with top quality fresh produce? Without touch and feel, but just barcodes, are we less inclined to purchase the products? What about those supermarket sprees that we look forward to on the weekends?
With new emerging technology changing the way our shopping habits and the way we interact with each other, the success of this business model is still unforeseen. Even though this may be a seamless idea with a genius business model and strategy behind it, uptake may not be the same for other countries and retail chains.