South Korean agency Cheil won the Grand Prix Media Lions at Cannes for their Homeplus Subway Virtual Store for Tescos. Commuters on the way home from work would enter the virtual supermarket and shop the way they would normally shop except for one thing – shoppers would see the 2D photos of products they were buying rather than the products themselves.
Shoppers scanned the QR code on the image with their mobile phone, the product is put in their virtual basket, and after the commute home the shopping is delivered to their door.
Cheil point to the difficulty other major brands such as Walmart and Carrefour in establishing themselves in Korea – both companies left. Tesco on the other hand increased online sales by 130 per cent through this campaign and is now a close second in the offline market.
Virtual shopping in the offline world is a natural extension of screen-based computer shopping. The idea is pitched as a commuter-friendly time-saver but if seriously applied, it could have much wider implications – opening the doors to environmentally friendly packaging for example. Though consumers shop online via product images, there is still a residual connection to the 3D packaging in the shops. Using 2D images in offline shopping may change our relationship to product packaging and products. Displaying images rather than products in offline shops would save on transport costs and fuel pollutants, while businesses could consider using the product image in the virtual shops and then use more simple packaging for home delivery. This is an idea with legs – make that ‘virtual’ legs.