Fed up of coming home from holiday to an empty fridge?

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

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, 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.”



Notes to Editors:

  1. Photos and video of the virtual store are available on
  2. Guide to how the virtual store works:

There will be 4 interactive fridges in the virtual store pilot and 6 digital sites positioned around the departure lounge for passengers to use.

Sliding screens on each ‘fridge’ (or cupboard) can be scrolled by hand. Customers can browse the products by touching the screens and then scan product barcodes to add them to their basket.

There are around 80 products featured, carefully chosen to enable customers to make a full shop (milk, eggs, bread, cheese, pasta, sauce, chicken, cereal, fruit, vegetables etc).

Customers need to download the Tesco app from the App Store, Google Play or Android Market to scan products using their smartphone*. This takes around  2 minutes. They also need to register with

Customers select ‘groceries’ from the app. They select a home delivery slot and can book a date up to 3 weeks away.

They select the ‘scan’ option and scan the barcode of the product they want on the virtual fridges (with the  app they can also access thousands of other grocery products widening the range of products available to buy). The smartphone will bleep when the product is scanned.

They press ‘add to basket’ and the product will be saved to their online grocery basket.

Once they have finished scanning they can checkout and make payment.

There will be staff on hand to help at the virtual store daily from 6am – 9pm.

*iPhones and phones powered by Android only.  Customers need to download the Tesco app to scan barcodes

  1. Tesco was the first retailer to offer online grocery shopping in the UK.  It operates the most profitable online grocery service here, with over 1.3 million active customers.

CEO Philip Clarke has emphasised the importance of continued digital innovation for Tesco, with recent initiatives including drive-thru supermarkets (grocery Click & Collect), augmented reality F+F posters and the virtual fitting room.

“It’s about following the customer and how they are changing. According to one estimate the number of mobile devices will overtake the number of people on earth within five years. By 2020 everyone under the age of 21 will be a digital native. In their minds there is very little difference between a store and a website and smartphones are as central to their lives as electricity.”       (Philip Clarke, speech to Consumer Goods Forum, Istanbul, June 2012)

4.  Smartphones: the future of shopping?

  • More than half of us (54.6%) have a smartphone in the UK

(Shopper Thoughts Omnibus Survey, July 2012)

  • By 2016, 90% of mobile phones in the UK will be smartphones.

(IDC, June 2012)

  • UK consumers are expected to spend £4.5billion using mobile devices in 2012, a 53% increase on 2011. This was £0.7billion in 2010, representing a growth of 584% in 2 years.

(Centre for Retail Research February 2012)

  • 92.32% of smartphone holders use their phone whilst travelling or commuting.

(Shopper Thoughts Omnibus Survey, July 2012)


For more information please contact the Tesco Press Office on
01992 644645

Tesco is the UK's largest retailer and one of the world's leading international retailers. Tesco has around 5,000 stores worldwide, employing over 500,000 people in the 14 countries in which it operates. Our core purpose is to create value for customers to earn their lifetime loyalty. Our success depends on people: the people who shop with us and the people who work with us.


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