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April 4, 2012

A commuter shops for laundry detergent using her smartphone

Canadian health and beauty care products online retailer is giving Toronto commuters a way to purchase many frequently used items by scanning a QR code with their smartphones. has installed a virtual store outside a Toronto subway station to make it easy for commuters to purchase items such as laundry detergent, toothpaste and diapers. Images of the items appear on a virtual store shelf and have a QR code associated with them that can be scanned by a smartphone to purchase the item and have it shipped to the user.

“Some of the advantages of the virtual store are that Canadians can shop when they are on their way home without standing in a line, and they do not need to carry the items with them,” said Paige Malling, vice president of marketing at, Toronto.

“Cases of diapers or bottles of laundry detergent can be heavy and we want to offer the consumer a convenient way to keep their shelved stocked without the hassle of shopping in-store,” she said.

P&G is a partner
The virtual store features well known Procter & Gamble brands such as Tide, Crest, Head and Shoulders and Pampers.

To shop the virtual store, Toronto commuters must first download the application, which is available for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 devices.

The virtual store

Once the app is installed, commuters can scan a product QR code using the app to add it to their cart. They then input their billing and shipping information to have the item delivered to their home.

Users can scan up to 120 different items and checkout in just three screens as well as receive a digital receipt.

The program includes free shipping delivery across Canada.

The store appears on the wall of a rotunda outside the Union Station subway stop in Toronto. It is seven feet high and 33 feet wide in total.

Marketing messages appear on the floor in front of the virtual store as well as on surrounding posters to inform customers about and the details of the initiative.

The virtual store will be up and running from April 2-30.

Virtual shopping grows
The online retailer is the latest in a growing list of merchants experimenting with enabling virtual shopping via QR codes.

PayPal recently ran a program in Singapore’s subway stations to enable commuters to shop and pay for Valentine’s Day gifts by scanning the QR codes associated with several different items and pay via PayPal (see story).

Earlier this year, online grocery retailer Peapod teamed up with Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and other brands to let commuters in Philadelphia shop for commonly purchased grocery items off of posters and billboards in the stations by scanning QR codes (see story).

As a leading health and beauty care products online retailer, carries more than 50,000 health, beauty, personal care and household products.

“We wanted to let Canadians imagine what the future of shopping can be,” Ms. Malling said. “We wanted Canadians to realize that a store can come to them and be located anywhere at any time.

“At we are committed to continue to innovate in terms of retail technologies and shopping experiences,” she said.

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