tesco virtual supermarket in a subway station
tesco virtual supermarket in a subway station
jul 06, 2011

tesco virtual supermarket in a subway station

tesco homeplus opened a virtual grocery store in a south korea subway station, where users shop by scanning QR codes on their smartphones

in a campaign designed by the seoul branch of advertising agency cheil, tesco homeplus supermarket opened last fall a virtual grocery store in a south korea subway station, permitting users to shop using their smartphones.

a large, wall-length billboard was installed in the station, designed to look like a series of supermarket shelves and displaying images and prices of a range of common products. each sign also includes a QR code. users scan the code of any product they would like to purchase, thereby adding it to their online shopping cart. after the web transaction is completed, the products are delivered to the user’s home within the day.

the strategy makes productive use of commuters’ waiting time, while simultaneously saving shoppers time spent going to the supermarket.

video footage documenting the concept and actualization of the virtual supermarket

tesco virtual supermarket in a subway station shoppers add items to their online cart by taking a picture of the corresponding QR code

via dvice

  • i’m not sure I would use such a service. getting out to the supermarket is an enjoyable experience and allows me to touch and feel the products. plus it allows for getting out of the house, getting a little walking and mingling with neighbors. this just seems like another way to get people isolated from each other. i’m not liking it.

    Mark - Las Vegas NV says:
  • so its pretty much like shopping online…. but with huge posters? Sounds pretty stupid to me. Just make more stores.

    david says:
  • I think that it would be super convenient for over-worked city dwellers to be able to shop while they wait for their train and to have their groceries arrive when they get home from work.

    elf says:
  • Top pic, seems odd they have 2 or 3 copies of each item.
    Are there not enough choices so they have fill the space with duplicates, or does this represent the available stock?

    mantra says:
  • whether you think it’s stupid or not, it’s an obviously ingenious marketing ploy that actually WORKS.

    christine says:
  • Mantra – I imagine it’s to replicate actual shelves more accurately. You never see items stacked in one row in real supermarkets – this way it creates a comfort and familiarity, as well as making products easier to spot. If every row was a separate item, it would become cluttered.

    Christine – agreed. Not sure I would ever use it myself, and certainly not for buying meat etc (I prefer my local butcher) but this is finally a decent use of QR codes

    David – not always easy to make more stores. It costs a lot of money for one thing, and you can’t always get the space you need. This way they can ramp up sales without the expense of an actual store.

    Chris - Isle of Man says:
  • How about a digital storefront, so merchandise can be updated on the fly?

    Felix says:
  • Great advertising is had with great market research. This works in South Korean but may not work in USA. In America, the stores are larger and more selections. The expectation of large selections may not make this approach right for citizens in America.

    Felix – a digital storefront would make more impact in the states.

    [url=http://anthony-morgan.blogspot.com/p/100-reasons-to-use-google-adwords-to.html]Anthony Morgan[/url]

    Ad Agency says:
  • fix the email button

    doesn’t work

    god's son says:
  • Great idea – I love it!! I would use something like this if were available in our part of the world – no item stock becomes someone elses problem, along with standing in ridiculous queues once a week shelling out hard earned money.

    Michael - CPT, SA says:
  • I would definitely use it. It’s a great use of what is otherwise wasted time waiting for trains or buses.

    Gisele says:
  • Anthony –

    I see this more like a bodega like you’d find in Manhattan – I think it would work very well. The component in the scheme that ties it all together is the delivery service.

    dbkii says:
  • I wonder if the pic has been taken at midnight.. there’s nobody around. I suppose it would not be that great fun to try n shop that way when the station is packed, as it’s mostly the case in asia.

    Ivan says:
  • Efficient use of waiting time.Whether you buy or not, you have something else to look at rather than just regular ads. Busy people may enjoy what they have in front of them as they wait…

    nsenda lukumwena says:
  • Love it. Great to know that international companies are actually trying to understand the ‘local’ market and the Asian mentality of work/play. Looking forward to more innovations of this sort within the international consumer economy — geared to the busy-bodies of the working world.

    studio WF says:
  • Would this work in underground stations where we dont get any range??

    Tahaer says:
  • This is definitely more for city dwellers, as one person stated. It also makes shopping easier for on-the-go people – for what ever reasons – whom don’t always have time or capacity to shop.

    In cities, especially in places like Korea and Japan – space is exceedingly limited and precious, so opening new stores is almost impossible; so it’s better to have a few distribution locations that service specific areas of the city. Plus imagine all the jobs it will create for delivery drivers, and warehouse workers.

    I know several friends that live in the city, and shopping is a nightmare for them; the stores are far away, or don’t always carry what they need. And carrying bags of groceries for many city blocks is time consuming and tiresome – and can lead to getting mugged.

    I think that it’s a very interesting idea, with many implications and applications. It works for well in the purpose it is being utilized in. Also, I think not only are the multiple items to simulate store shelves – for recognition and comfort – but also so that more than one person can scan the item at a time; after all, it’s a busy subway.

    13thGeneral says:
  • [quote]”Would this work in underground stations where we dont get any range??” -Tahaer[/quote]

    Good point/question. I think they would need to place signal boost units in the underground systems – which many cities are already doing.

    13thGeneral says:
  • Mantra my only guess as to why there a multiple pictures of the same product is so make then easier to find like in a real supermarket. If there was just one little picture of each product it would be as convenient.

    praha says:
  • the multiple images of a single item might be simply to act as “place-holders” so that there is a place to drop in another product at some point without having to re-do the whole thingng

    another explanation might be plain old capitalism: if a supplier is willing to pay for more than one “cel” on the shelf he/she gets more presence out of it

    dbkii says:
  • South Korea has excellent 3G and wifi coverage everywhere, even at the bottom of subway tunnels. No problem there.

    Ex-Pat in Korea says:
  • In my opinion whose born and lived in Korea, although it’ll be useless,but it’s a innovative way of advertisement compare with others.

    Seoul Citizen says:
  • great idea time is more valuable in our life

    duleep says:
  • That’s just about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.
    1. How are you seriously meant to do a week’s worth of shopping while waiting for a train?
    2. Is that all the products there are? My local store has 1000s
    3. How do you change aisles?
    4. What if the person next to you changes it to fresh produce but you haven’t finished looking at cosmetics?
    5. What about when the platform is, you know, actually full of commuters? This place looks strangely empty.
    6. … 7. …. 8… .

    stupid 😛

    whatever says:
  • It is possible only south korea .
    I think they are sooo good market reaserching and find suitable metapho. Don’t mach another area !
    Of course other people like go market direct, but many peole in south korea cannot go market bcuz they have no time.
    Specially advertise is set up in subway. The place is so important ! People spend waste time waiting for subway. But now absolutelt not.

    Joo says:
  • It’s easy to say this is a stupid concept because we assume we are spoiled on this side of the great divide. Digital storefronts can solve this, allowing users to scroll through all available items (generic vs product chain) That would not be impossible.

    Whatever is on sale at that time can be popped up to the top of the list for that category.

    The question is maybe one of space. The cost of upgrading the New York Subway to allow for the additional shoppers would not happen on the platform level but on the concourse levels. Still a big task given how crowded it gets. Once again, doable.

    If you are looking to live in a more sustainable manner, you may have to adjust your shopping style and habits. Stores will one day support the changing demographic patterns once they see the financial return in doing so. Right now, they will encourage you to buy as much as you want.

    The Consumer says:
  • Take pic, take pic, take pic, take pic, take pic, aargghhh . It would be much nicer if you just touch the product you want with a smartphone and presto ! It’s added to the shopping list. Anyway, I know smartphones can’t exactly do this, or can they 😉

    croky says:
  • This is really neat. It almost seems like the beginning of a “physical cloud” for objects, like the one we have for data. The possibilities could be huge for lots of different retailers (I’ve written more about this [url=http://justindunham.net]on my blog[/url].

    Justin Dunham says:
  • @Croky, it would be good to note that the asian markets have been enjoying smartphones at a level more complex than the US for some time now. All the standards that we are becoming comfortable with here, are old concepts for what phone users there have now.

    The infrastructure is also more invested in, generally speaking. Here. the questions is, ‘ Am I 3g? 4g? something fast?’ It’s an overall different beast here and this concept would need to be modified. The likes of FreshDirect would be an interesting but logical mover in this direction.

    The Consumer says:
  • Great! Quick and efficient shopping, so people can finally free themselves from the “shopping experience” and use their time for the real important things in their lives.

    Joe Louis says:
  • just make more stores? thats plain stupid. much more cost effective to do this.
    why are there more than one of each item in the picture? because its not just a shopping list its an advertisment.

    any other stupid questions?

    seems like an awesome idea.

    gods brother says:
  • I can see how this may be useful in overpopulated areas of the world where space time and transport are an issue. I don’t see this working in the US though I would be willing to give it a try provided the options are limited to prepackaged foods. I would never ina million years use this service for produce or fresh meats or milk/cheeses.

    Matt says:
  • I see this as dystopian. Part of being human is having the ability to have a few minutes where I don’t have to do anything but wait for a train to arrive. I live in New York City, and the last thing I want is more noise in my life.. whether it be visual or audible.

    mmatyus says:
  • Why not just go ONLINE and purchase everything from there? I mean, what’s the point of taking pictures of items that aren’t relly there??? Its a waist of time…

    Joomma says:
  • dear ‘whatever’: you missed something. is not screens, people cannot change the display, they are posters. maybe yes would be better even to make it screens so can update merchandise and prices easier, but still it will be a image that users cannot change.

    i think this is really great.

    all of you people who complain about how he should go to the actual supermarket instead, yes, go do it, i also prefer physical market, but online shopping already exists so this just does the same thing, lots of people like it even for produce or cheese or things. dear matt I saw it already when I went once in the USA! (not this idea but online supermarket).

    all of you people who complain on the opposite about just do it online… this is just a way to do that, while using up time that otherwise you would waste! dear joomma, it is the OPPOSITE of a waste of time! plus i did online food shopping once and it is a PAIN, much easier to see the pictures this way as though they were real shelves.

    good job i like it a lot.

    roland says:
  • Mantra/Chris – duplicate pics may be just to let more than one person shop for the same thing at the same time with a little distance between them. I know I try to keep a little comfort zone between myself and the other creatures roaming the average subway station!

    Steve says:
  • @mmatyus

    I think the word dystopian may be a little harsh here. It’s pretty brilliant marketing, actually. Rather than just put up posters, why not make them functional? Either way, I would only buy non-perishable items like this. I need to touch and smell my fruit before I buy.

    kosstheory says:
  • @croky
    well, you can probably use the technology being used in touch purchasing, using your phone like a credit card, though I would prefer this way. Less chance of accidents.

    The bottom most shelf seems to be the only one that doesn’t repeat itself (in the drinks section) haha!

    What I’d like to know is if you can shop 24/7. That seems to be the only reason not to go to a convenience store, aside from stock issues of course.

    I think all that’s missing is a QR code at the very edges (beside the doors maybe?) that would maybe download an app or webpage that contains the whole catalogue, so you can continue your shopping on the train. You know, for those who can’t or just don’t want to wander the whole platform for a particularly wanted item :p

    Angela says:
  • It’s a real product service system!

    Silvia says:
  • Tesco Home Plus is a good shopping system. It can help busy people to save their time because they can buy anything they want in just a station. In my opinion, this type of shopping should be openned in other countries.

    Hai Yen says:
  • In my opinion, this is a wonderful idea,which can save a lot of time and be convenient for customers.However, it will have some problem .Because we can not know the real quality.

    Pham Thi Hoa says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

technology news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
504,237 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample
designboom magazine