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Ocado unveils ‘next generation shopping’

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Online grocer Ocado has opened its first bricks and mortar store. But it’s no ordinary store for the company has taken over a unit in a City of London shopping centre to launch a virtual shop window where shoppers can order their goods using their mobile phone. The initiative could be replicated across the country if it is successful.

Ocado says it is showcasing “the next generation in shopping” with its temporary pop-up shop in One New Change where shoppers can buy from the window display using the Ocado app, rather than from the shelves. The virtual shop opened for business on Thursday and runs until September 1.

The window display features pictures of goods ranging from stamps to Shiraz, toilet roll to tuna as well as items from its Reflets de France and Daylesford Organic ranges.

To buy, shoppers download the Ocado on the Go app, use it to scan the barcode on the product display and then, when it appears on the screen, press add to put it into their basket. From there they can check out as normal.

Jason Gissing, co-founder of Ocado, said: “The virtual shop window is a bold move for Ocado and something we are very excited about. We hope this trial is a hit and based on its success we’ll be looking at options around continuing this ‘virtual window shopping’ approach is other locations UK-wide.”

Ocado claims the move is a first for the UK, although a similar concept is reported to have been trialled by Tesco in South Korea. Ocado has been at the leading edge of commerce involving a mobile phone. It introduced the world’s first transactional supermarket mobile application in 2009. As of May, mobiles were used for 15% of Ocado checkouts.

Our view: Will this new take on window shopping inspire shoppers to do more than look? Will this be one of those odd-sounding ideas that catches the public imagination and becomes common currency in a matter of months? There’s been much talk in the past about how the high street shop could become a showcase for goods rather than a place where shoppers go to pick stuff up. This looks set to prove an early test for that theory.

Presumably the intention is about attracting new customers rather than serving their regulars, who already prefer doing their shopping on the go rather than going to a store to scan barcodes. Will it work, beyond its initial impact? We will be watching with interest to see if it does.

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