Atlantic Cities: Online Grocery Shopping Is Returning to the Physical World
... Grocery stores that found success on the internet are instead returning to the physical world with a hybrid business model: the "virtual" supermarket, a shop for smartphone users that carries photographs and bar codes instead of food. After the success of locations in mass transit stations from Seoul to Philadelphia, the virtual supermarket is about to hit the city above ground. Chinese supermarket giant Yihaodian announced this week it is opening 1,000 brick-and-mortar locations. ...
... Grocery stores want to reach time-starved commuters, but they also seem to be capitalizing on consumers' desire to browse. It's one of the reasons why many people at least claim to still prefer physical bookstores, even as the monstrous success of websites like Amazon seem to negate that notion.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Yihaodian has also experimented with subway stores, but the announcement this week marks a big move back into physical space. No longer will "virtual supermarkets" be only in mass transit stations. They'll occupy actual retail space in the city.
See my earlier post, The Grocery Store of the Future?