Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Koreanization of Canadian retail

Remember when Tesco Korea started setting up virtual shopping in subway stations, allowing commuters to become consumers by scanning goods they wanted with their cell phones and then waiting at home for them to be delivered sometime later?

Last Christmas season, a similar idea was tested by K-Mart and Sears, who used virtual stores in plazas around movie theaters to help parents do their holiday shopping (and to get Mom and Dad or Grandpa and Grandma to "buy me that gift right now!"*).

Well, Canada's The Globe & Mail is reporting that a retailer in Ontario is adopting the Korean model to bring commuters in Toronto a similar idea:
An online health and beauty retailer on Monday launched a pop-up store at a key commuter hub that features images of Pampers diapers and Tide detergent, rather than the products themselves. Using a smartphone app, shoppers place their orders by scanning quick response codes – QR codes, for short – on pictures of products, which are then shipped, often as quickly as the next day, to customers free of charge.

Ali Asaria, founder of and a former software engineer at BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd., got the inspiration for his digital store from global grocery giant Tesco, which has tested the concept for rushed commuters in a Seoul, South Korea subway station.
If this had been around in the 1980s, there'd have been no Raising Arizona.

When this was first tried in the Seoul subway system, I thought it was particularly ideal for Korean commuters (and urban commuters in East Asia in general). These is a captive audience of people with free time while they're waiting for a train but with little time to shop for groceries, and who often have no car with which to easily pick up large items and take them home. Meanwhile, Korea has a pretty extensive delivery "culture" to rely on for delivering said goods.

While this concept could more easily transfer over to many European cities, I wondered how readily it could translate into a workable concept in North America. The toy-store-at-the-movies adaptation was brilliant, but we'll have to see how it plays out in Canada. At a commuter hub, there might be a clientele somewhat similar to Seoul's, but other than cities like Toronto or New York City with a large portion of carless commuters, how easily can it catch on?

In other words, will it play in Peoria?

* Children are little more than kinetic balls of narcissism™. 


1 comment:

  1. If they tried it here in Vancouver, it'd get vandalized sooooo quickly.


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