Photos: Tesco pilots 'virtual store' for Gatwick airport travellers

Photos: Tesco pilots 'virtual store' for Gatwick airport travellers

Summary: The supermarket has set up virtual fridges and cupboards around the airport to let travellers browse and buy using a smartphone app, then have the food delivered the day they return


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  • Tesco has set up what it calls an "interactive virtual grocery store" at Gatwick to persuade air travellers to buy food for delivery on their return home.

    On Monday, it switched on 10 digital displays around the airport's North Terminal departure lounge - four 'fridges' for perishables and six 'cupboards'. They will stay up for two weeks for the pilot.

    People can swipe the screens to browse 80 Tesco grocery products. Once they have found a product they want, they can add it to a shopping list using the barcode scanner in Tesco's smartphone app.

    "It's a chance to showcase what we can do to the 30,000 people a day who will depart from Gatwick’s North Terminal, many of whom will have a genuine need to fill their fridges when they get home," Tesco's internet retailing director, Ken Towle, said in a statement.

    The Gatwick pilot follows Tesco's launch of a virtual store in South Korea in 2011. South Korean commuters and customers shopped at bus stops and in subways by pointing phones at billboards.

    The supermarket is the largest in the UK with almost one-third of sales, followed by Asda.

    Image credit: Tesco
  • Shoppers need to go to to download the app for iPhone and Android handsets.

    The app allows people to add products to an online basket, book a delivery slot and make a payment. Delivery dates are limited to a maximum of three weeks from booking.

    The shopping baskets are processed in the same way as on the site.

    The supermarket said it had decided to have customers order via screens rather than directly via the app to make sure they bought everything they needed.

    "The browsing means that people are reminded of other things they need as they search the fridge and cupboard shelves, as they would do in a real store." Tesco told ZDNet.

    "This also is likely to target a younger audience, as in Korea, the 'digital natives' who see little difference between stores and websites," it added.

    Image credit: Tesco

Topics: Mobility, Apps, Smartphones

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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  • Why So Many Screens?

    I don't understand why they actually need the big screens. Since they need a smartphone app anyway, why can't it do the display of the goods as well?

    I mean, one machine displaying information on a screen that another machine then has to read?
  • Better app

    Big screens in the airport or supermarkets are just visual pollution especially if they are built with blindingly bright lights. Better if they create a smart TV app for my LG smart TV or a better smartphone iPhone app which could be a preferred way of grocery shopping.