Over the next fortnight, Tesco is piloting the first interactive virtual supermarket in the UK at Gatwick Airport’s departure lounge. The virtual Tesco has four interactive screens that allow customers to slide and reveal shelves with a range of 80 items. When a customer finds one they want to buy, they can scan the barcode for the product with their smartphone. This allows consumers to order a basket of essentials that can be delivered the day they arrive home.
The technologies available with smartphones are growing quickly and mobile commerce is the fastest growing part of the retail market. Interactive Media in Retail Group expects m-commerce to make up about 15% of all sales made over the internet by the end of 2012. Already, over 25% of consumers have used their smartphones to surf websites while they shop.
This has left some retailers lagging behind, and Tesco believes its latest technology will appeal to passengers at Gatwick Airport. This is one of the most bustling times of the year, and tens of thousands of travellers will have time to waist while they wait for connecting flights. The virtual grocery store has been positioned in the North Terminal, where it will be trialled for two weeks.
Ken Towle, the internet retailing director for Tesco, says that a similar programme was launched in South Korea last year for commuters to order groceries at bus and train stations via billboards. The pilot was successful, as their Korean sites got a lot of interest. It went viral, so they wanted to see if other consumers would use the virtual shop. If the Gatwick trial is successful, they want to launch the scheme at more airports. They also want to extend their online service to every market they operate in and have started a service in Poland and the Czech Republic, with plans to launch one in Slovakia as well.
Tesco marketing manager Mandy Minichiello says that they don’t believe the virtual grocery store is a gimmick, rather it’s a taste of what’s to come. About 90% of mobile phones will be smartphones by 2016. They are doing this pilot to get feedback from users and are keen to make their lives as easy as they can. She added that more and more consumers want to shop while they are on the go.
Mobile retail strategy consultancy Velti says that the retail industry is fast changing. Vice president of sales Matt Cockett says that retailers are having a hard time keeping up. A mobile strategy is key for retailers, as revenue in the sector has more than doubled over the last year. The investment is about how a mobile strategy is developed and managed to take advantage of fast oncoming technological changes. Connecting the data touch points and getting a comprehensive view of every consumer is considered the Holy Grail. Retailers have to consider all the areas that drive mobile traffic to ultimately raise conversion rate.
Tesco was an internet retailing pioneer and has over one million customers online. Earlier this year, it relaunched its website and says online orders account for about £5 billion in revenue every year.Author's Google+ page