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Virtual Stores
Drive Tesco Growth In Korea
Turning waiting time into shopping time

homeplus-man-shopping.jpgEveryone knows that building new retail stores is expensive and takes a lot of time. But what if building a new store could be as easy as printing a poster?

Global food chain Tesco was finding it hard to compete in the Korean market, until they decided to do just that.

Check out this very cool use of mobile!

The Situation

Koreans are one of the hardest working populations in the world, and as a consequence they tend to prefer to do their shopping in stores near their home. This makes it is quicker and more convenient, and better fits their busy lifestyle.

Tesco – operating in Korea under the local brand Homeplus – had fewer physical store locations than E-Mart, the #1 chain in the market. And this was putting Tesco at a competitive disadvantage.

Rather than embarking on an expensive, time-consuming program to construct lots of additional retail shops, Tesco teamed up with advertising agency Cheil Worldwide to develop the Virtual Store concept, and turned Seoul’s subway stations into Homeplus grocery stores.

The Campaign

Basically, Cheil printed large posters that looked just like the shelves in a normal Homeplus store, complete with all the various products that customers would expect to find in a grocery store. These were then mounted on the walls in subway stations to create a virtual grocery store in the subway.


The result was actually a quite realistic grocery store, the only difference was that while the customers were waiting for their subway trains, they could their smartphones to shop!

Here’s how it worked:


The Results

Tesco Homeplus believes that the campaign was very successful, with over 10,000 people doing their shopping in the virtual store.

In addition, Tesco Homeplus saw their online sales rise over 130% as a result of the campaign, and they are now the #1 online market in Korea.

Why it works: Tapping into consumer habits

The interesting thing about this campaign is that it applies new technology to deliver a new service, but it is all based on a very established consumer habit.

People have been doing their shopping by browsing products on store shelves for many many years, and Tesco simply used new mobile technology to move that same experience into a more convenient location, thus enabling people to turn their waiting time into shopping time.

Here is a video of the service in action.

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