When I first saw the video below of how Tesco’s Korean subsidiary Homeplus had tested a "virtual supermarket" in Seoul’s Hangangjin subway station I was impressed with the customer-centric use of mobile technology to innovate the shopping experience. The test included using basic posters with QR codes to enable the customer to create an order for delivery while on their way home.
Now we have learned that Homeplus is extending the trial to other Seoul subway stations next month with a view to rolling the format out across South Korea within two years.
What makes this possible? First and foremost an investment in a services-oriented architecture that Tesco began years ago, along with a consumer market well adapted to using mobile technology in their day-to-day life, and an operational capability to pick the items and faciliate delivery. It is intriguing to see how this test paints a future where physical displays – be they printed or digital – can be used to enhance the cross-touchpoint research, purchase, and service. Ideally these need to be highly integrated to the commerce platform to support real-time price, inventory availability, promotion, and content updates that enable full cross touch-point commerce, with this yet another interface to support shopping.
This is agile commerce, and this example illustrates one way in which the investment in the commerce platform and the ability to expose it can lead to innovation. This specific application is certainly interesting as well, but it is the ability to innovate that is truely important here.