Do you find the act of visiting the grocery store to be the low point of food shopping? If so, you should move to South Korea, where you can seamlessly integrate the shopping experience into your daily commute. Tesco, the international supermarket giant, has been trying to become the leading grocery chain in South Korea, going so far as to locally change their name to Home Plus. They far an infrastructural challenge against the leading competitor, E-Mart, who has a greater number of physical locations throughout the country. After studying the culture of South Korea, Tesco learned that many people dreaded the grocery shopping experience, viewing it as a time consuming chore after a long, hard day of work. So Tesco decided to bring shopping to the customers, letting them pick out their groceries during time that would otherwise be wasted. Life size, printed replicas of the store shelves are mounted on the glass barriers at subway stations, and each item has an associated price and QR code. Waiting passengers can scan the QR codes to fill a virtual shopping cart, check out, and have the groceries delivered to their home later in the evening, eliminating the need to visit the physical store.
This is an incredibly logical use of QR codes, beyond gimmick, beyond advertising ploy. It is using some of the strongest characteristics of QR codes, their ease of scanning using a smart phone, and the shear number of possible unique codes. In fact, the largest logistics issue would seem to be the order picking and delivery, though you would have the advantage that the customer distribution would be localized to those who used the specific public transportation stops that have the graphics. It is such a lovely blend of low and high tech, using advanced logistics and apps, triggered by a 2d printout. This could have huge potential in other markets, especially in other big cities. Imagine the commuters of London, who are bombarded with multiple free newspapers throughout the day, who during their ride and wait could pull out a shopping supplement. QR can be so much more than a link to a commercial in a magazine.