Internet shopping has a new rival! The introducing of virtual shopping stores!
How are these any different I hear you ask? Well, virtual shopping stores are physical stores that you attend in person. However, the products on the shelf are virtual representations rather than actual products. You browse the store as you would in a normal shop, but rather than picking up the items and placing them in your basket, you touch the screen or scan the barcode with your phone to add them to your list. The products are then delivered to your home for you. The idea is that you can do your shopping on your way to work and then have it delivered at home that evening.
The first virtual store opened in a Korean subway station. Here in the UK, Gatwick Airport is also trialling this technology in connection with Tesco who are quoted as saying “we don’t think it’s a gimmick – it’s a taste of the future”.
I can see that convenience will be a big selling factor in relation to this type of technology. No more carrying heavy handbaskets or being accidently hit in the back of the heel by the careless trolley-wielding customer behind you!
You can do your shopping on the way to work without worrying how you will fit all your goodies in the work fridge until home-time; and no more squeezing on the tube with a million carrier bags much to the disgust of your fellow commuters.
Personally, I am not a fan of internet shopping when it comes to groceries – I much prefer to go and browse the shop. I find it much easier to recall what I need when I have visual prompts in front of me, i.e., going past each aisle and deciding if I need anything from that section today (Although I would probably spend much less if I did my grocery shopping online as I wouldn’t be tempted by all the stuff I don’t really need but which catches my eye when I walk by). Therefore, given my preference for physical stores, I would rather shop in a virtual store than online. That being said, I like being able to take my groceries home with me. There is nothing more inconvenient than having to wait in for a delivery driver arriving, so I can only see me using this service if the goods could be packed and ready for me at the till.
That being said, I can see virtual stores being a hit with those who use public transport/walk/cycle to the store and want to do a big shop, or individuals with physical disabilities who find maneuvering a cumbersome shopping trolley difficult but who would still like to do their shopping from the store.
I don’t think you can beat being able to see and pick up the actual object you are buying but there are also some definate advantages to this type of technology. Time will tell how popular it will be…
How do you feel about this type of technology? What pros and cons can you identify? How do you feel this compares to internet shopping?