Smartphone boom may shift retail boundaries in Australia

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 8th September 2011

The popularity of smartphone shopping is changing retail horizons. New smartphone applications have been launched in Australia in the past month by major Australian food retailers. Multinational food giant Tesco has launched the world’s first ‘virtual shop’ in Korea during the same period.

Australian Food News reports have included new smartphone apps launched by Australia’s two largest supermarket chains, Coles and Woolworths, as well as a new smartphone app from Australia’s largest pizza chain Domino’s.

Meanwhile, Australian Food News is aware that more digital retail platforms incorporating smartphone technology are currently being trialled and tested.

Tesco goes virtual in Korea

On 25 August 2011, Tesco’s Korean subsidiary Homeplus opened the world’s first ‘virtual store’ in the Seoul subway, in South Korea.

The walls of the Seonreung subway station in downtown Seoul came to life with virtual displays of over 500 of Tesco Homeplus’ most popular products with barcodes. Customers can scan the barcodes using a Homeplus app on their smartphones and get the products delivered to their door.

Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Tesco Homeplus, DW Seol said, “The idea is that busy commuters can scan their groceries on their way to work in the morning and, as long as their order is placed before 1.00pm, their items will be delivered home that same evening, creating greater speed and convenience in the whole shopping experience.

“This is a real triumph for the Korean retailing industry as it continues to be at the forefront of technological innovation.”

Online food retailer’s ‘pop-up shop’ in the UK    

In a UK first, online food retailer Ocado opened, at least temporarily, a ‘pop-up shop’, using the same format as Homeplus’ ‘virtual shop’ in South Korea.

Between 26 August and 1 September 2011, the British online food retailer occupied space in a London shopping centre. Ocado customers were able to pick up their weekly groceries using the retailer’s own ‘On The Go’ app.

The online store’s most popular products were printed as a ‘window display’ of the shop. Barcodes underneath will let customers scan the items before “dropping them into the basket” on the app. Then a delivery was booked through the smartphone app.

Australia’s smartphone boom

Google, in partnership with research company IPSOS, has just conducted a global study of over 30,000 smartphone users in 30 countries, including Australia. In combination with other Google Internal Data, Google’s research revealed that Australia has the second highest smartphone penetration in the world with 37 per cent of Australians owning a smartphone. Smartphone users in Australia have an average of 25 apps, eight of which are paid for. In contrast, smartphone users in the USA and Britain have an average of 23 apps.

The study also claims that by the end of 2011, 50 per cent of Australians will have a smartphone.

Google Mobile Ads Research’s Natalie Rojowsky said, “While the mobile revolution is moving at different speeds across the globe, it is evident everywhere. This research underscored how consumers are using their mobile devices to access the web, look for local information, and purchase products and services.

“Businesses seem to be lagging behind the consumer in terms of use and support of mobile marketing which represents a significant opportunity.”