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Case 1 – Virtual Supermarkets in South Korea

Situation:
HomePlus, the South Korean affiliate of the British supermarket chain TESCO, intends to expand its existing network of physical supermarkets with a number of virtual supermarkets at underground stations in Seoul. The concept is simple. Consumers need to download the HomePlus app to their smartphone and as they walk along the platform (waiting for their next train to arrive) they can scan the QR-codes of the products that are projected on a brightly lit billboard. Advocates of the project claim that these days many people in South Korea live such a busy lives that they don’t really have time to go to the supermarket at night after work. These virtual supermarkets might just be the solution to this problem. People can shop while they are waiting at the underground station before they go to work and by the time they get home their groceries will be delivered at home by the supermarket chain. Critics however claim that this new phenomenon might oust smaller supermarket chains (who can’t afford a virtual system like this) out of the market and add that many workers at physical supermarkets might lose their job. Assignment:

Write a 350-500 word essay in which you describe your point of view towards this new type of grocery shopping. Do you side with the advocates of the virtual supermarket that say that this is a good evolution for South Korean consumers or do you agree with the critics that the benefits do not outweigh the (economic and social) downsides? Write an essay of 350-500 words in groups of 2 in which you provide at least 3 arguments in favour of your point of view, as well as 2 counterarguments and their refutation (other than the ones mentioned above!) Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15341910
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/mobile-phones/8601147/Tesco-builds-virtual-shops-for-Korean-commuters.html
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