Monday, July 11, 2011

Virtual Stores

Summer is here; time to launch another annual summer series under the umbrella theme of What’s Next USA? Today I will start by addressing Virtual Stores. Future posts are as follows:

- Social Profiling
- People Commerce
- FB Alternatives
- Mobile Vuvuleza
- The New Classroom

Read On:
Back in June, I indicated I am bullish about QR codes. They are a great hybrid marketing tool – intercept marketing (a proven classic marketing strategy) combined with a Web 2.0 collaborative tool. Tesco, headquartered in the United Kingdom, the third largest retailer (revenue wise) globally after Walmart and Carrefour clearly demonstrates my point with the creation of their virtual stores in Korea. Their research revealed Koreans are the second hardest workers in the world. Consequently, finding time to shop for groceries is an arduous task for most Koreans. Tesco, known as Home Plus in Korea decided to recreate the look of their stores by posting large, life size replicas of their food aisles in subway stations complete with QR codes. All commuters have to do is scan the items they want with their smartphones, a grocery shopping cart is created; the items are then shipped immediately to their homes. Great concept!

Are virtual stores on the USA horizon?


  1. This is starting already even w/o the QR codes but other Smartphone applications. Here is one article on the available applications:

    We discussed the 'store of the future' via your LinkedIn group "Foodservice OTL". May warrant a link here or in a future blog.

  2. Many of the major grocers have web-based groceries already, as well as PeaPod and others. There have been spectacular failures as well in this space (i.e. WebVan). I think the idea is coming, but may be executed more "automatically" thru a cloud solution designed to maintain personal grocery inventories using scan codes as you receive and use ingredients, automatically creating shopping lists to activate deliveries to your door (or for pick-up at the store nearest you). All of this technology exists, but has yet to be commercialized or logistically executed. As always, the "last mile" is the logistics stumbling block. Perhaps we will efficiently overcome that, at least in metro areas.

  3. Jim, I have shopped for groceries online and had them delivered, and it's a bit of a mess using the current technology offered by stores like Acme. It's both a huge convenience and a huge pain-in-the shopping-cart. They have a long way to go to get it right.

    QR codes have been used in Asia for, what, like 10 years? I wrote a report on QR codes, then talked about it in a LinkedIn group, and guess what? Several people responded that they are primitive and simply clutter up the page. I almost got into a spitting match with one guy :)He claimed no one would ever use them because it requires the user to download an app. Duh. what a dumb argument. I think he's probably the one guy in the US who still uses a dial phone. Tough crowd.

    So is America ready for prime time grocery shopping via QR code? Hell no. But I have been noticing they are popping up more and more on the printed page in magazines. Maybe there is hope.

    Also, we know Google stopped supporting QR codes in favor of NFC (NearField Communications). That shook everyone up about the future of the humble code.

    So, the jury is still out...way out...on this one. But I think they are totally cool.

  4. Interesting comments. Thank you. When I read this morning how Target is going mobile for a whole campaign targeting college students via Pandora and know that by year end half our mobile users are going to own smartphones, I am completely convinced there will be a whole future generation that will drive virtual shopping. Target not only will be dropping products into price buckets, $20, $40, etc., but they are also using color buckets.

  5. I agree with you Jim, and to your point, Victoria - the US is so far behind, but QR codes popping up like crazy is a sign of growth. NFC will replace QR for payments but I don't believe it will replace all usage of QR. Virtual shopping is such a cool idea and it has legs in the US, but not in the immediate future.