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Tesco trials virtual store for holidaymakers at Gatwick Airport

Published:  07 August, 2012

Tesco has unveiled what it thinks could be the "future of shopping" with its first virtual store at Gatwick Airport's North Terminal.

It follows the success of a similar venture with virtual shops in train stations and at bus stops in South Korea last year. This UK initiative allows holidaymakers to plan their shopping for when they return all by using their smartphone to scan virtual product barcodes displayed on 10 refrigerator size screens in the airport.

Tesco estimates the average traveller has 70 minutes of "dead time" after passing through security. Those travelling through Gatwick's North Terminal will, for the next two weeks, be able to "Come home to full fridge" by shopping whilst waiting for their flight.

They can choose from the 80 selected core items, including wine, or access the full online Tesco product database of 80,000 prodcuts.

Mandy Minichiello, senior marketing manager at Tesco, said it was all about "trying to make busy people's lives that much easier" and tapped in to a growing desire amongst consumers to "shop on the go".

Tesco said the move was part of a raft of new ideas it hopes to bring to the market that capitalises on the use of smart phone and internet technology. It estimates that UK consumers will spend £4.5 billion through their mobile phones this year, an increase of 584% in the last two years. Sixteen per cent of sales via already come in some way via a smartphone with 8% coming directly from a smartphone.

The trend is only going to get bigger considering it expects 90% of the mobile market will be smartphones by 2016.

Ken Towle, Tesco's internet retailing director, said we can expect to see similar ventures and that it was only right "for Tesco to be pioneering" and "leading" in this way for its customers.
"This could be the future of shopping. We don't know. Customers are living their lives differently and we have to be tuned into the technology they are using," said Towle.

If the trial is a success it could be rolled out to train stations and other high traffic areas in the future.

The venture comes on the back of a series of poor trading performances, including a profit warning, from Tesco.

Online shopping has been identified as a key area for growth for Tesco both in the UK and overseas.

You can see the virtual store for yourself here at: