Tesco unveils virtual supermarket at Gatwick Airport

UK-based supermarket chain Tesco plc (LSE:TSCO) has opened a “virtual grocery store” in a two-week trial at London’s Gatwick Airport.

The company said today that the new store would allow holidaymakers to arrange an online grocery shop that can be delivered when they return.

From now until 19 August, the trial store in the airport’s North Terminal allows customers to view a range of everyday products by scrolling through screens on large virtual fridges. They can add products to an online basket by scanning the barcodes with their smartphones and then book a home delivery slot and checkout.

Surveys show that more than half of the UK population owns a smartphone.

Around 80 of the most popular products are available in the virtual supermarket, including milk, eggs, bread, cheese, pasta, sauce, cereal and fruit and vegetables.

Customers need to download the Tesco app to scan the barcodes. The software works with iPhones and devices powered by Android.

According to Tesco, 30,000 people depart from Gatwick’s North Terminal every day and each has an average of 70 minutes of time to spare while waiting for flights. With the opening of the virtual Tesco store, they can now use this time to stock up on essentials and ensure they don’t have to visit the shops on their way home.

This is the UK’s first interactive virtual grocery store and its opening follows Tesco’s launch of a virtual store in South Korea last year, allowing commuters to order groceries in subways and at bus stops by pointing their mobile phones at billboards.