Ocado and its “virtual shop window”

We have all heard of window-shopping, but now online grocery retailer Ocado has gone one step further by revolutionising window-shopping into window-scanning, with the launch of a “virtual shop window” at London’s One New Change shopping centre. Shoppers are able to view pictures of available products, which they can then scan using their iPhone or Android smartphones to fill online baskets, provided that they have already downloaded the Ocado On The Go shopping app.

If successful, the retailer intends to replicate the scheme across the UK in an attempt to build its presence on the high street, whilst increasing its mobile-generated sales, which at the moment stands at 15% of all Ocado transactions. Moreover, the window also has the online advantages of being open 24/7, while additionally being stock-free, taking up less space in the premises and without requiring staff, which all seems very clever. However, the guys at IncridiBull have noticed a few flaws, which I think deserve revealing as I am yet to see the window-

1) Difficulty/impossibility downloading the app. Obviously not good news if Ocado wants the virtual window to generate actual sales. It needs registered users to do this.

2) The location. IncridiBull aptly point out that the position of the virtual window above a real supermarket seems rather pointless. They argue that the concept’s tagline “need to pick up a few bits while you’re out” seems a bit silly when you can physically pick these up downstairs. Ocado’s online promises of ease of shopping experience therefore seem unsubstantiated in this highstreet model.

And I can see one more problem, purely from a functionality perspective- what if you can’t reach the barcode to scan the item? Or worse still- is their an appropriate form of queuing/scanning/window-shopping behaviour in place? I like how the window operates additionally as a form of advertising for Ocado, but with the presence of people buying, looking and walking by, will the window generate sales? We will have to wait and see.

Ocado's virtual shop-window

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