Earlier this year, South Korean discount chain E-Mart deployed a fleet of ‘flying stores’ around Seoul as part of a retail promo aimed at the city’s time-pressed workers.
Addressing the fact that South Koreans work the longest hours in the world, the retailer teamed up with marketing agency Cheil Worldwide (which co-masterminded UK supermarket Tesco’s virtual stores on Seoul’s subway system in 2011*) to encourage consumers to shop from the E-Mart site while in transit. E-Mart’s truck-shaped balloons – branded with the company’s bright yellow signature colour palette – were each equipped with a wi-fi router that provided free internet access as they floated through shopping malls, trains and other public spaces. Shoppers could quickly connect to the wi-fi hotspots via their mobiles to download the E-Mart app and purchase items immediately from its mobile site.
During the month of the promotion, downloads of E-Mart’s app rose to 50,000 while its mobile sales more than doubled. The retailer also felt the benefits of this campaign offline, as coupons downloaded from the balloons drove a sales increase of 9.5% in its stores.
The high penetration of mobile devices (against PC ownership) in Korea means its population is especially well-primed for this mode of shopping. When Tesco tapped into this market with its 30 *digital pop-up ‘walls’ in Seoul’s subway and bus stops, the associated app amassed 1.1 million downloads over a two- to three-month period.
Also see Anywhere Retailing: Nomadic Retail for more on a new wave of agile store formats that retailers are devising to appeal to consumers on the go – from evolving commuter shops to drive-thrus and vending machines.