Challenging traditional ways of thinking

Challenging traditional ways of thinking

Challenging traditional ways of thinking

Tesco’s South Korean network of shops, called Home Plus, have grown to become the country’s second-largest supermarket after E-Mart since launching in 1999, but number two is not enough for Tesco. They asked themselves:

“How can we become number one without spending a lot of money opening new shops?”

One way is to expand their online sales. As South Korea has more than 10 million smartphone users in a population of less than 50 million, it made sense to look at mobile shopping as much as websites for desktops.

Just like everybody else, South Koreans are busy at home and tired after a long day at work so offering the opportunity to shop while doing something else has a lot of value. Tesco settled on commuters waiting for their train: they have time on their hands and the must have jobs, so they’re likely to have money but little time.

Rather than expect them to search through menus labelled with tiny text that says such unattractive things as “fish” or “homeware”, they plastered the glass walls of subway stations with pictures of their products, laid out just as they’d be in a traditional shop. The “shelves” featured QR codes – squares filled with a black and white pattern, unique to the product in question, they’re a more versatile successor to the bar code – which could be scanned by the traveller’s mobile phone, building up a shopping basket in the few minutes before the train arrives. If your train comes before your basket is complete, you can carry on shopping without the pictures and codes if you wish.

Deliveries are arranged to arrive in hours, rather than days, so the groceries will be in the shopper’s kitchen that night and there is no need to wait in to collect them.

The video makes the point of how competitive the South Korean market is but it’s also worth keeping in mind how technically savvy average shoppers are too.



The campaign supplied over 10,000 customers who actually placed orders and the online turnover increased by 130 percent.

Surely an idea that can travel!


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About The Author

Torben Rick

Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement, development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and United Kingdom

Blog Comments


What a refreshing case example. I personally believe that especially the businesses serving consumers are under pressure to question the tradiotional structurers and question how things get done; how the consumers wish to be served and how they create value.

I enjoy your blog!

Br, Kaijus

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