Tesco, Ocado Trial Virtual Shopping Walls to Lure Mobile Users

British grocers Tesco Plc (TSCO) and Ocado Group Plc (OCDO) said they started trials of virtual shopping walls, where shoppers can browse images of products and order them using applications on their mobile phones.

Tesco, based in Cheshunt, England, opened what it says is the world’s first virtual store at the Seonreung subway station in central Seoul, South Korea. More than 500 of the most popular products are displayed on a wall, each with a barcode which shoppers can scan with a smartphone to get them delivered to their home, the largest U.K. retailer said in a statement.

Ocado, the biggest independent online grocer in the U.K., introduced a similar display at the One New Change mall in London’s financial district today. The test will end on Sept. 1, the Hatfield, England-based company said in a statement.

Supermarkets are looking for new ways to target shoppers, with online grocery sales predicted to grow faster than store- based sales, according to IGD research. Online sales in the U.K., which include mobile sales, are expected to double in size in the next five years, with total revenue reaching 9.9 billion pounds ($16.1 million) in 2015, the researcher estimates.

Tesco shoppers in Seoul need to download a mobile-phone application to scan the code on items such as milk, apples and pet food on their mobile phones. About 600,000 shoppers in the Asian nation have got the application in four months.

“We are always looking to make the shopping experience easier and more convenient for our customers and the introduction of the virtual store is a great achievement,” DW Seol, executive vice president of corporate affairs at Tesco’s Homeplus unit in South Korea, said in the statement.

Ocado said mobile phones were used in 15 percent of transactions in the first half, a 150 percent increase from a year earlier. The online grocer will consider the “virtual shopping window approach in other locations U.K.-wide,” Chief Executive Officer Tim Steiner said in the statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Shannon in London at sshannon4@bloomberg.net.

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