Grocery Shopping In the Subway? There's An App For That
For most of us, waiting for the subway or train is just another daily time sink. Sure, you could read the paper or listen to music, but more often people can also be found pursuing less productive activities like counting rats and avoiding making awkward eye contact with strangers. But a new project by grocery retailer Tesco has commuters in South Korea actually crossing things off their to-do list while they wait, by grocery shopping on the train platform.
To improve their online sales, Tesco covered the walls of a South Korean subway station with pictures of their merchandise arranged as though on store shelves. Each item was tagged with a QR code, the black-and-white squares that can be read by smartphones. In the morning, commuters can scan the codes with their phones to fill up a virtual shopping cart. They pay for their items using an app, and then at the end of the day the food is delivered to their homes.
The technology here is nothing new. QR codes have been around since the 90’s and have been used on smartphones for several years. Online grocery shopping services have also been available for over a decade. But this seems to be the first time someone has thought to put the two ideas together, particularly to give commuters something to do in the subway other than playing Angry Birds.
According to Tesco, the service was extremely popular, and was used by more than 10,000 people over the course of a limited campaign. The company saw online sales grow by 130% after the trial, with new registrations up by 76%. Tesco hasn’t said yet where subway shopping will be incorporated into their regular services, but judging by the success, it’s likely that at the very least the idea will be tried in other cities around the world.