Yihaodian plans 1,000 augmented reality virtual supermarkets

Chinese e-commerce giant will make use of blank city spaces around the country and utilize augmented reality technology to allow customers to shop virtually and have goods home-delivered.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

China-based e-commerce company Yihaodian is opening 1,000 virtual supermarkets across the country by making use of blank city spaces and augmented reality (AR) technology.

According to Tencent Technology News Monday, these virtual stores, called "Unlimited Yihaodian", have an area of 1,200 square meters of floor space and virtually stock 1,000 items. Using smartphones, shoppers can view these stores and have the goods they want delivered to their homes.

Users can take advantage of the convenience of e-commerce and skip long queues, according to the report. The first store is scheduled to open in the Guangzhou and Shenzhen regions of southern China.

Yihaodian had previously rolled out this idea on a smaller scale, partnering location-based services company Jiepang to provide virtual, QR-code shopping in subway stations of Chinese cities, a separate report on Tech In Asia noted.

Globally, Yihaodian is not the first company to unveil virtual stores. U.K. retailer Tesco has also rolled out similar virtual shelves in South Korea's subway stations last year under its HomePlus brand, against its rival E-Mart. In August this year, Tesco installed a virtual kiosk at London's Gatwick Airport where outbound travellers can shop and have goods delivered on their way home.

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