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South Korea opens world’s first virtual store

South Korea’s second largest retailer Homeplus has opened the world’s first virtual store in Seoul South Korea.

Imagine walking into a store and not seeing any products on the shelves. Well, that is what customers are doing in South Korea today at a virtual store where shoppers scan square shaped bar codes with their smartphones. The products are then delivered directly to their home address.

The walls of a Seoul subway station that has over 200,000 commuters daily are plastered with products with scannable QR codes that resemble traditional bar codes.

South Korea’s number of smartphone users has spiked in recent years.

According to statistics from the Korea Communications Commission, the number of smartphone users is expected to jump to 25 million in the second half of this year from 7.2 million in the first half.

Delivery fees will range from 1,000 won ($0.92) to 4,000 won depending on the hour of the day the customers wants the products delivered.

“When we first launched the Homeplus app in February, which directly links to the Homeplus online shopping mall, we recorded only 9 million won in sales through the app per week,” said Kim Jin-ho, an official at Homeplus. “But 650,000 people downloaded the app as of July and we see about 30 million won in sales per week now.”

Homeplus CEO Lee Seung-han said stores must adapt to customer’s rapidly changing habits and behavior. He said most smartphone users are using their phones on long daily commutes, and this is the best time to target shoppers.

Joongang Daily contributed to this article

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