Clever idea in Korea: virtual subway grocery store

In an attempt to become top grocer in the difficult Korean market, global grocery giant Tesco came up with an ingenious solution that propelled sales because it worked so well with the Korean transit oriented lifestyle.

The idea: virtual grocery stores in subway stations.

To create the virtual grocery stores Tesco created graphical displays that mirrored grocery store shelves and installed them in subway stations. Thanks to QR code technology these displays are far more than just advertisements – commuters can point their smart phones at the items they wish to purchase and do their grocery shopping while waiting for the next train. Groceries are then delivered the same day, so when commuters get home their shopping is already done.

One reason for the success of this idea: Seoul’s subway system is one of the busiest in the world. According to Wikipedia there are over 8 million daily trips on the system.

Considering this, do you think there’s any application for similar ideas in L.A.?

Categories: World of Transport

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10 replies

  1. “do you think there’s any application for similar ideas in L.A.?” Perhaps L.A. Metro could take the first step and make its stations for conducive to the use of electronic devices: reception for cell phones, wireless for computers… is that too much to ask?

    (Maybe wireless on buses and trains, too?)

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  2. Why QR codes though? Assigning numbers to each product for one to manually enter into their phone to add the item to one’s virtual cart seems like a better idea.

    I would hate the idea of having to hover over a QR code with my phone, trying to get my phone to scan it with difficulty because some punk tagger scratched the outer glass. Plus, I don’t want commuters behind me knowing what I buy. LOL. Could you imagine, someone saying the next day at the same station, “So, how was the steak?”

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  3. You have to first let retailers and merchants inside the stations first to make this idea catch on.

    The East Asian countries are able to do this relatively easy because the transit riders there were already used to having vending machines, convenience stores, shops and restaurants, department stores, etc. inside each station.

    They use their train station as a multi-use property where all sorts of business activity are going on. In contrast we just use our train stations as a building that serves only one purpose: a train station nothing more and nothing less.

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  4. @Joe Linton
    Wireless on buses isn’t exactly feasible nowadays since almost everyone who needs to be connected on the go has a smartphone or wireless 3G/4G access devices for their laptops. Foothill Transit once had wireless on all of their Silver Streak buses, but hardly anyone ever used it, and as a former Silver Streak rider, I can attest to that. They discontinued it for the reason I mentioned above. Wireless on trains, especially on the Red/Purple Lines, now that would be a thing to see.

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  5. Looks too promotional – i doubt most people will use it, since you can stop on the way home and pick it up and not have to pay a ¥8000 delivery fee. Plus who is going to stay home in a 4-hour delivery block just for paper towels and orange soda.

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  6. @george

    Did Foothill discontinue it? I was walking by a Foothill bus the other day and my phone tried to connect to its wifi signal.

    to the main point of the post:

    This is stupid. Korea is virtually connected with wifi and smartphones. They should be able to do this from the subway not at the station, but really it is stupid to have stuff delivered to your house. If your already out just pick stuff up. Save the gas and congestion from one more useless car/truck trip.

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  7. Fukuzawa has a point. Our stations are, in Alton Brown’s words, unitaskers. I was very happy to see businesses spring up in Union Station, and I would like to see that expanded to other transit stations. And if there’s no room for one, vending machines. Vending machines. Only then would I be willing to entertain the idea of this sort of grocery store thing.

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  8. I know that there are a few vending machines on the lower-outer entrances of the Red/Purple Line subway stations (Pershing Square, McArthur Park). However, it is very likely there will be any greater expansion than that seeing as one is still subjected to a $250 dollar fine if caught eating/drinking in a station.

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  9. This is an awesome idea!!! Those that don’t like this idea probably don’t take the subway. I would love for my groceries to be at home when I arrive, and if someone asks ” how was the stake last night”? I replay with good, and socialize instead of just sitting and looking straight forward like all the other zombies in the subway.

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