Selling dishwasher and detergents isn’t exactly the same in Korea as it is everywhere else. Not that Koreans don’t need them but they need them quick and fast without spending much time. Koreans are the second most hard working people in the world and grocery shopping isn’t their favorite pastime. Tesco didn’t go out to solve this problems for Korea when it went there. Instead it wanted to be numero uno in Korea. It wasn’t able to beat the incumbent E-Mart which had more stores than Tesco.
Opening up new stores is always an option but Tesco didn’t want to do that. It wanted to become number one without opening new ‘stores’.
Koreans love their technology and time. Tesco discovered this on its struggle to become number one. It introduced technology to save a lot of time. I mean really lot of time. Instead of asking or waiting for customers come to its stores or opening new stores, it went to them in a non-intrusive way. Selling soaps to customers by actually going to them would be a pretty stupid idea bound to fail. Tesco’s new solution involved no new manpower.
Tesco built virtual malls in subway stations. Groceries are neatly stacked in a digital board. Products in these virtual malls will come with their own QR codes. Customers will scan the codes of the products they need and in what quantities with their smartphones. The product is added to the customer’s shopping cart. And voila that’s that. The goods will be delivered to their homes and needless to say money is all taken care of with the smartphone itself.
The beauty of this virtual mall is it doesn’t have to be replenished.
Tesco has not only saved monies in supply chain and warehousing costs but it has also given Koreans an easy and sticky way to shop, without actually waiting in a line. All the waiting they were doing was for their next train either to work or back home. Metro stations and public places will suddenly become hot real estate destinations. Tesco’s solution has once agian proved that you don’t have to change the world. You just have to make something a little better.
I almost want to ask how long before we see something like this in India, but never mind. We need smartphones which can read QR codes covered with paan spits.
This innovative way of reaching customers made Tesco number one in online sales and close number two in offline sales. Which brings me to an all important question : Is this the future of shopping?