Digital retailer opens shops without stock
Chinese e-commerce giant Yihaodian has provided a hint of how digital publishing might make inroads into the traditional high street.
The e-reailer is to open 1,000 supermarkets which don’t contain any actual food, but instead feature images of items alongside scannable QR codes. Shoppers scan the codes for the products they wants, and the goods are delivered to their homes. Yihaodian has already toyed with the idea on a smaller scale, sticking up posters in subway and bus stations in Chinese cities featuring products with their QR codes available for online purchase.
UK retailer Tesco recently installed a virtual kiosk at Gatwick Airport where outbound holidaymakers got to shop and have goods delivered on their return home.
It's an idea that is being eyed by Amazon as a way to grab a foothold on bricks and mortar trade. Recent months have seen the digital giant invest in a network of 'Amazon Lockers' whereby customers can arrange to pick up their goods in places like grocery stores and local businesses. Amazon pays store owners a small fee by Amazon to house the lockers; stores get the added benefit of increased foot traffic. Customers don't have to worry about being home to sign for their packages, or having them stolen from the doorstep while they're at work. And Amazon sees its shipping costs drop.
It is only a small step to allow Amazon customers to actually order from these lockers and return days later to pick up their goods.
The idea of shops without stock could be a hint of things to come in the industry as rivals compete for the attention of smartphone-toting but increasingly time-starved consumers.