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App–based shopping hits Toronto’s underground

App–based shopping hits Toronto’s underground

Subway riders may be used to creative ad campaigns on the TTC, but commuters passing through the lower level of Brookfield Place on their way to Union Station are set to see something really different: a wall of products that can be purchased by scanning a QR (Quick Response) code with a smart phone. QR codes are similar to bar codes—a user snaps a photo of the code and it uploads to an app that processes the information. This wall of household goods—like Tide detergent, Pampers diapers and Old Spice deodorant—is the product of the new virtual store Well.ca, and because this service is local, items are delivered sometimes as soon as the next day. (Although if you need diapers or deodorant this desperately, please go to an actual store.)

QR codes have worked for grocery giant Tesco, which has used the concept in Seoul, South Korea, but Canadians are still lukewarm to the idea—studies show that only 20 per cent of Canadian smart phone owners use the codes. Being the first company to try out this concept in Canada seems to have attracted interest: Well.ca got more than 100 app downloads in the first three hours of rolling out its virtual store and reported that hundreds of items were scanned (scanning is merely step one though; no word on how many scans became sales). Anyone reticent about becoming too attached to their smart phone will probably rush past the display and hit up a grocery store, but it’ll probably be a hit for millennials who’d prefer spending time after work having drinks over buying the necessities.

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