Tesco has launched a new virtual store in Gatwick Airport aimed at reminding holidaymakers to make an online grocery order for when they return and drive uptake of its mobile app.

The retailer is hailing the giant touchscreens as the UK’s first interactive virtual grocery store.

Internet retailing director Ken Towle said it was an extension of a successful trial in South Korea that allowed commuters to shop in subways and at bus stops by pointing their mobile phones at billboards.

Towle said the Gatwick virtual store would 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 can view a range of everyday products by scrolling through 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.

The store, which launched yesterday, is being trialled in the airport’s North Terminal departure lounge until 19 August, covering Gatwick’s two busiest weeks of the year. Staff will be on hand to help customers with the scanning and ordering process on their smartphones.

“Our business in Korea is teaching us a lot about how customers and technology are transforming shopping,” explained Towle. “The virtual store blends clicks and bricks, bringing together our love of browsing with the convenience of online shopping.”

Towle said there were no immediate plans to roll the virtual stores out to other locations but indicated the concept could work in areas of high commuter traffic. He said Tesco was seeing major spikes in m-commerce activity during the morning and evening rush hours.

The South Korean experiment, which started as a trial last year, has since been made a permanent fixture.