C24 have blogged about this idea before and now it seems to be gaining strength with Woolworths of Australia taking it on board. It may be an idea that some retailers in the UK could look at using, especially for items that are not that fast moving and lend themsleves to smart technology.
An Australian retailer has taken a page from the books of our Korean and Chinese supermarket giants with the launching of a Woolworths virtual store in Town Hall train station in Sydney with another virtual store launching today in Melbourne.
We first saw virtual supermarkets pop up last year when grocery retailer Tesco created an almost identical installation in Korea allowing customers to shop using their mobile phones and the QR code enabled billboards. Sportsgirl recently turned its Chapel St store in Melbourne into a virtual store with a QR code enabled billboard on their storefront while renovating.
Woolworths customers can use the current Woolworths mobile application to scan barcodes on the stores virtual display consisting of over 120 products. Scanned items are then placed into the customers virtual shopping cart for check out and delivery via the mobile app. Virtual supermarkets are not only convenient but they could also save commuters valuable time during the week by enabling them to do their grocery shopping while waiting for public transport. The Woolworths virtual store was created in conjunction with M&C Saatchi, Mitchell & Partners and Tigerspike.
The virtual supermarket wall is just one idea we are working on to make our customers’ lives easier. The virtual supermarket will be at Town Hall for a week and we will take feedback from customers throughout this time. This experience will provide us with important information on how we can develop this concept into the future,
said Tjeerd Jegen, Woolworths director of supermarkets.
This is a great first step for Australian grocery retailers at providing tools to help bridge the gap between online stores and traditional bricks and mortar retailers. We are yet to see if the Woolworths virtual supermarket will entice online shoppers away from the desktop or simply become a nice PR activity. Virtual supermarkets and retailer walls could well be the way of the future but is it too early for Australians? We shall see.