The Virtual Tesco, and Mobile 2.0 Thinking

We all sense that the growth and adoption of mobile technology is extraordinary. And at a fascinating seminar led by Andrew Hawn and David Luttenberger of Iconoculture at the FIT campus in New York yesterday, some facts were presented about retail usage of mobile devices that certainly seemed to confirm this.

1. In the last year the time spent using a mobile device has increased from 43 to 81 minutes per day
2. 73% of consumers prefer using their mobile device at retail for product information rather than relying on a salesperson for advice
3. 78% of smart phone users use their phone when they shop
4. 70% of desktop product information queries lead to sales in a week, while 70% of mobile queries lead to sales in one hour

These statistics, and many others like them, support the explosion that is taking place in the adoption of mobile devices and demonstrate the excitement people are feeling about their usage at retail. But I was mostly NOT feeling really excited yesterday. Unfortunately most of the examples shown were decidedly boring and derivative, simply mundane examples of old-school promotion programs using QR codes for activation technology. Really boring, and I’ll call this Mobile 1.0 thinking.

But anyone who takes time to consider the potential of this technology knows it is capable of much much more. And this potential was demonstrated with what Tesco has launched in South Korea. This is a mobile activation idea so extraordinary that it could simply change the whole premise of retail.

As the video above demonstrates, their Home Plus stores have set up virtual retail shops in subway stations. These walls have no real products, just images of product packages with QR codes. Shoppers can select items for purchase by scanning the code on a simulated store shelf. The items are then soon delivered to the shopper’s home. Now imagine a virtual Stop & Shop in Grand Central Station, or a virtual Walgreen’s at O’Hare Airport!

While everyone else has been fooling around with Mobile 1.0 ideas, Tesco has shown us how exciting, and groundbreaking, Mobile 2.0 technology will be.


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
This entry was posted in Design Criticism, Design Practice, Packaging Technology, Retail Technology and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Virtual Tesco, and Mobile 2.0 Thinking

  1. Jaime says:

    what a great idea… it would be amazing if this becomes mainstream

  2. Great post. It will be interesting to watch online retailers in this space. The HomePlus model seems like it could be a lightweight, quick opportunity for companies like Amazon or to get a foot into the bricks and mortar space and continue to devour market share without disrupting their operational models.

  3. Would make an interesting guerrilla campaign to be sure. could park a specially made truck with these displays right outside a Walgreen’s etc — beat ’em before they even entered the store.

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