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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with The Content Guy. Two stories popped up this week that reinforced one of my core retailing beliefs.
One had to do with Tesco’s Homeplus business in South Korea, which announced that it is expanding on the virtual store concept that it debuted to great acclaim last year in the Seoul subway system. (Here is a link to the original MNB story, along with a YouTube video.) Essentially what they did was plaster the walls of subway stations with pictures of their products, laid out just as they’d be in a traditional shop. The ‘shelves’ featured QR codes that could be scanned by a mobile phone, building up a shopping basket in the few minutes before the train arrives. You can go from station to station as you complete your shopping trip, and then have the order delivered to your home or office.
The next step for Tesco is to install what sounds like a convenience-driven virtual store format at some 20 bus stops near universities around Korea ... and the company is now saying that it could bring the concept to the UK if it continues to work.
I find this all to be incredibly fascinating, and I’m not surprised that other retailers, including Sears, Kmart and Ocado, are testing the virtual store concept.
It’s also interesting that Procter & Gamble has tested it, especially because I remain convinced that companies like P&G are increasingly looking for ways to disintermediate traditional retailers...and the virtual store may address some of the logistical issues.
And now, the Wall Street Journal reports that shopping has come to yet another form of public transportation - New York City taxicabs. The Journal writes that taxis in specific areas during the upcoming fashion week will carry special tags that allow people to order products by swiping their smart phones ... a process inspired by the Tesco experiment in Korea.
The lesson here seems clear - that more and more, companies are finding ways to communicate with shoppers outside the confines of the store, while at the same time, shoppers are looking for ways to shop without actually going to the store. It is an enormous challenge to traditional retailers, which have to find ways to lure shoppers into the store, or find ways to reach beyond their traditional borders.
But it also is going to be an insanely cool trend to watch unfold.
That’s what’s on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: