Singapore’s public transport service provider SMRT, working with retailer Cold Storage, transformed some of the wall spaces at its stations into virtual ‘shops’ where commuters can make purchases on the move.
The idea is this (via SMRT PR release, PDF):
they can order the latest tech gizmo while standing at the station platform, or do a bit of grocery shopping while waiting for their friends at the station foyer; without having to step into a shop, queue, send an SMS or make a call. All that is required is a QR code reader, which is installed in most phones, or widely available for free in the latest mobile platforms.
I went to Bugis station to take a look and took a photo of the wall as shown above. It’s definitely good attempt of creating good commuting experience. But, it’s a failed attempt. Let me tell you why.
A lack of strategy.
SMRT and Cold Storage’s virtual shopping doesn’t have a strategy in place; you can’t clearly see why they are doing this except for the sake of doing it. Clearly Cold Storage doesn’t have a strategy and it’s more driven by SMRT for “better commuting experience” instead of part of retailing strategy.
Home Plus, Tesco’s South Korean network of shops, launched virtual shopping wall in the middle of this year, as part of the attempt to expand their online sales rather than spending a lot of money opening new shops. Check out the video:
Besides strategy, everything else fails… Simply put, the campaign does not deliver extraordinary shopping experience or fun.
Location fails. It’s really bad location. I found the virtual shopping wall outside the subway exit door at a T-crossing where commuters enter and leave this subway station. Even a few commuters stopping and “shopping” will block the way. And, the wall is not selected somewhere commuters have to “face it” walking through; it can be easily ignored, being taken as simply another advertisement.
The best place should be on the platform where people wait for trains and have nothing else to do. And, it should not block other commuters if there are crowd trying out the QR Codes shopping.
Design fails. There is not really any integration or special design for virtual shopping experience, simply a combination of “advertisement” + “QR Codes”. If you watch the above video, you find the huge difference. There is no fun factors integrated into the design which is critical for virtual shopping.
Hopefully next year we could see something better, a well prepared virtual shopping campaign in Singapore.