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August 09, 2021

Virtual supermarket lets commuters grocery shop with their phones

So far, it’s been a wild week for consumer technology.

15033006-15033006-fruits-and-vegetables-in-grocery-bag To wit: the e-card you send sexual partners to tell them, “Hey, ya know what? I know exactly  what that burning was! You might wanna get yourself checked out.”

But aside from online STD warnings – seriously, they’re a real thing – one consumer tech innovation is bound to lead to some cool developments down the road.

For shoppers, meet the virtual supermarket.

As introduced to the western world Monday (and actually an homage to a similar Korean program unveiled earlier in the summer), commuters on Shanghai’s subway system now have the option to grocery shop via their mobile phones.

Hung at 12 of the Chinese city’s busiest stations are interactive posters, which show 80 or so daily groceries laid out over virtual rows, much as they’d appear in a supermarket.

If a commuter likes something they see, or even care to complete an entire grocery run while waiting for a train, they simply snap a photo of the code beneath their item(s) and tally them into an online shopping cart.

When they’re done, travelers confirm the price and quantity of each item and send off the order. Groceries are delivered to their home “within hours,” according to the program, and a delivery fee (usually about $1.50 to $8, depending on weight) can even be waived for larger orders.

“This is for young customers who do not have the time to go to normal supermarkets,” a spokesperson for the Chinese grocery chain running the virtual supermarket told The Daily Telegraph.

Now before you say, “Amazing! I don’t have any time to shop! When will it come to Canada?” – let’s not flatter ourselves. While Canadians work hard, we’re not on the job nearly as long as the Koreans or Chinese, who make our 35-hour average work week, accounting for two weeks of annual vacation, look like peanuts (South Koreans, for instance, work a whopping 45 hours per week as a national average).

Still, if there’s any two nations that love convenience, and similarly paying for them, too, it’s Canada and the U.S. Look for the virtual supermarket at high-traffic urban commuter stations soon.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...