Tesco launches its first interactive virtual grocery store at Gatwick

8th Aug 2012
Tesco launches its first interactive virtual grocery store at Gatwick

Coming home from holiday is bad enough, without the added hassle of returning to an empty fridge. Today at Gatwick Airport, Tesco is revealing a new solution, by opening the UK’s first interactive virtual grocery store in Gatwick’s North Terminal.

The Gatwick opening builds on Tesco’s launch of the world’s first virtual store in South Korea last year, an innovation which generated 25 million online posts around the globe. The Korean virtual store allowed commuters to shop in subways and at bus stops by pointing their mobile phones at billboards. Tesco is now trialling the concept for the first time in the UK, but this time using interactive digital displays.

The Gatwick virtual store will allow passengers passing through the North Terminal to combine browsing, as they would in a physical store, with the convenience of an online grocery shop and home delivery.

Customers will be able to view a range of everyday products by scrolling through the unique moving screens on large virtual fridges. By scanning the barcodes with their smartphones* they can add their chosen products to their online baskets, book a home delivery slot and checkout. Their shopping will then be delivered when they return from holiday.

Tesco is the first retailer to offer passengers a service of this kind. Around 30,000 people depart from Gatwick’s North Terminal each day and each has an average of 70 minutes of downtime while waiting for flights. They can now use this time to ensure they don’t have to make a trip to the shops on their way home.


The virtual store will be open for business in Gatwick Airport’s North Terminal departure lounge during the two busiest weeks of the year, from 6th August – 19th August. Staff will be on hand to help customers with the scanning and ordering process on their smartphones*.

Tesco’s Internet Retailing Director, Ken Towle, said:

“Our business in Korea is teaching us a lot about how customers and technology are transforming shopping. It gives us a unique window into the future and the chance to try out exciting new concepts. The virtual store blends clicks and bricks, bringing together our love of browsing with the convenience of online shopping. It’s a chance to showcase what we can do to the 30,000 people a day who will depart from Gatwick’s North Terminal, many of whom will need to fill their fridges when they get home, and we’re looking forward to hearing what they think.”

Senior Marketing Manager for Tesco.com, Mandy Minichiello, said:
“As a busy working mum of two, I know that planning holidays can be stressful. The last thing you want is an empty fridge when you get back. When we came up with the idea for the virtual store at Gatwick, we really wanted to provide a helpful service for busy families. You can book a delivery slot up to three weeks in advance, do a full grocery shop while waiting for a flight and it’ll be delivered to your home when you get back.”


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