Next stop, groceries

Virtual grocery shopping comes to Seoul’s subway system

Next stop, groceries

Photography by Liz Sullivan

Subway platforms are normally just places for people to avoid eye contact while blasting 80 decibels into their eardrums. But during a recent experiment in Seoul, commuters could also buy groceries without having to lug heavy bags or stand in line.

The grocery giant Tesco plastered the walls of a subway station in the South Korean capital with life-sized photos of meat, dairy and produce displays, with each product bearing a unique barcode to be scanned with a smartphone. After people filled their virtual shopping carts and paid the bill using an app, their purchases were delivered to their front door when they returned home at the end of the workday. During the three-month trial, Tesco says 10,287 customers used the service, while online sales rose 130 per cent. The company is now looking for other high-traffic venues to host a shopping experience, free from the chill of the ice cream aisle.

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