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SEOUL -- The world's third-largest retailer is hitting on a novel way to attract busy consumers on the go in South Korea. UK-based Tesco is building virtual supermarkets in subway stations that allow consumers to shop while they wait for their trains.
Koreans are among the world's hardest-working people, thus, grocery shopping once a week is a dreaded task for many of them. So Tesco Homeplus created a virtual store in Seoul subway stations in which the displays and merchandise are exactly the same as those in stores.
The virtual stores feature wall-length billboards with photorealistic images of essential supermarket supplies. A patron takes pictures of each item he or she wants, grabs its QR code, places the order in an online cart and specifies a time for Tesco to deliver it.
Tesco launched its South Korean operation in 1999 and partnered with Samsung. It operates "hypermarkets," express outlets and home delivery shopping services. It is the second-largest retailer in South Korea, just behind Shinsegae Group, which operates E-mart, the nation's first discount retailer.