business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Woolworths there has unveiled a virtual supermarket - akin to the one developed by Tesco in Seoul’s subway system - in the Flinders Street Station in Melbourne, which hosts more than 100,000 commuters each day.

According to the story, “The temporary billboard, which looks like a real supermarket shelf with images of 120 key grocery items, enables commuters to purchase products by scanning the barcodes on the billboard with their smartphones. The barcodes take users to Woolworths' mobile phone app where the store's full range of 40,000 products can be purchased and delivered to homes and offices within hours ... Last week Woolworths upgraded the mobile phone app it launched last August to include a checkout facility, allowing users not just to compare prices and create shopping lists, but to shop from their mobile phones.”

The Morning Herald also notes that “despite online grocery shopping being available in Australia for 14 years, online grocery sales account for just 1 per cent of total grocery sales, according to last year's productivity commission into the retail industry. This compares to up to 4 per cent in Britain and about 2 per cent in the US.”
KC's View:
The virtual store could be a real game changer for the food industry, and it will be fascinating to watch how it grows in appropriate markets, and when it gets picked up by the likes of Walmart and Amazon and given real legs.