Grocery store chain mixes high and low tech to increase sales

July 6, 2011 by Bob Yirka report

( -- In a marketing strategy that can only be described as brilliant; brilliant enough to win the Media Grand Prix award at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, advertising agency Cheil Worldwide Seoul, conceived the idea of taking life size photographs of a clients grocery store items, pasting them on subway walls to make them look like grocery store shelves, and then allowing prospective shoppers to shop via snapping Quick Response (QR) codes with their cell phones, while waiting for their train.

The client, Tesco’s, Home Plus, in South Korea, the second largest grocer in the country, found that after covering the walls of a single subway station with sharp clear pictures of their goods, their online sales increased 130%.

The whole thing works using existing technology. First photographs are taken of entire sections; the photographs are then blown up to life-size renditions; then QR codes are applied. Next the photographs or billboards are pasted to the plastic back-lit wall sections already in place in a subway station. Home Plus members then simply walk up to a billboard and snap a picture of the QR code with their smart phone, which automatically adds the item to the customer’s virtual grocery cart. When finished shopping, the customer pays at the virtual checkout counter. The purchased items are then delivered directly to the customer’s home at the end of the work day, thus relieving them of having to stop for something on the way.

The idea merges technology, which has been in use for several years, chiefly as a means to allow customers to redeem virtual coupons, with online grocery shopping, which has been around for some fifteen years, taking what must assuredly be, a first step into a truly innovative marketing strategy.

The current system is part of a three month advertising campaign, one which resulted in a 76% increase in registered members, and was meant to trim the lead rival E-Mart holds in the marketplace. No doubt the system will be expanded to full time if the increase in sales carries past the cost of placing the enormous billboards in the subway stations.

If the strategy continues to pay off, it’s likely the same approach will be adopted by other vendors around the world and applied in a myriad of ways to entice buyers into buying goods wherever they may happen to be, standing, sitting or waiting.

Explore further: Google QR codes to appear in a store window near you (w/ Video)

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5 / 5 (1) Jul 06, 2011
I sense an opportunity for hacking.

Tape a sticker with another QR code over the one presented and watch consumers go shopping for cars, airplane tickets or insurance policies instead of bacon.
not rated yet Jul 06, 2011
Yea antialias, they just need to wait a few months for people to get used to clicking the 'verify' button. Then hit them when they're not paying attention. (Sort of like Windows secure desktop, which works well, unless you're like most people and just click ok to everything.)
not rated yet Jul 06, 2011
So long as the store doesn't sell cars, tickets or insurance, I think it's safe in that regard.
The picture taking/ordering app would be tied to a particular store.

Now some vandal could change the QR codes of all the products to - say - Spam, but then the way around that to some extent is for the store to check pictures. I assume the QR codes are automatically converted to text at fulfillment end - they could include the picture or have some sanity check -email - "Mr Kim, this is to confirm that your order of 20,000 cases of Spam is correct. PLease login to the app to re confirm your order".

Could mess things up, yeah.
Jul 06, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
not rated yet Jul 06, 2011
I suspect that the phone shopping app would have some sort of crc or verification hash to prevent such subterfuge from corrupting the shopping signals, that's what I would do anyway :)

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