Vodafone unveiled Qatar’s first virtual store experience at Telecom World 2014, organised by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) from 7 and 10 December 2014.

Attending the official inauguration of ITU Telecom World 2014 was HE Sheikh Faisal bin Thani bin Faisal Al Thani, Vice Chairman of Vodafone Qatar and a number of the company’s officials. Head of Innovation at Vodafone Qatar, Khalifa Al Haroon, said:

We’re very proud to be the first in Qatar to offer such a unique and simple shopping experience. For us, innovation does not necessarily mean reinventing the wheel. It is actually more of an evolutionary process. We take something that already exists and try to turn it into something better, easier and simpler. This is exactly what we’ve attempted to do when we conceptualised the virtual store shopping experience from a telecom operator. With this proof of concept which will be seen very soon in Doha, we can now take the Vodafone experience to places we’ve never been before. Our virtual pop-up stores can be set up almost anywhere.’

Named Scan&Go, Vodafone’s virtual store, showcased at ITU 2014 as a proof of concept, will roll out in Doha, Qatar by mid-December allowing everyone in the country to enjoy a shopping experience unlike any other. Scan&Go takes retail convenience to newer heights. Customers will simply need their smartphone and a QR Code Reader App to access a world of shopping which is now in arms reach.

By simply scanning a QR code linked to a Vodafone product, customers can browse at their own convenience, shop at the press of a button, and have their purchases delivered right to their doorstep or made available for pick up at any Vodafone shop. Through Scan&Go, customers can buy a mobile phone; join Vodafone Postpaid and Prepaid plans; recharge their Prepaid credit; get Mobile Internet and International Calling Cards and more. Users can make purchases via Credit Card through the Vodafone Mobile Shop or pay cash on delivery. Al Haroon added:

We wanted to bring the ultimate convenience to people with busy lifestyles or simply those who love technology and underline our efforts to ensure a delightful experience for them every step of the way. With Scan&Go, we’re open even when we’re closed. What I mean by that is when our physical stores are closed and our employees have gone home, you can still shop with us. Scan&Go covers a large portfolio of Vodafone’s products and services and demonstrates our strategy to own digitisation and innovation and strongly integrate into one’s lifestyle. I love the idea of fusing the physical world and the digital world.’

According to Qatar’s ICT Landscape 2014 report by the Qatar’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, Qatar beats many mature Information and Communication Technology countries, which are considered benchmarks in ICT device penetration such as the UK, Germany, Sweden, Singapore, UAE and KSA, when it comes to owning smartphones, laptops and tablet devices.

Ninety-two percent of households in Qatar have a smartphone. Only South Korea has the same level of penetration while Sweden (81%), Singapore (83%), the UK (67%) and Germany (61%) stand much behind. In the UAE, about 77% and in Saudi Arabia 74% of households have smartphones.

The use of tablets is also gaining momentum as 69% of households have them, leaving other countries far behind. In Singapore, 42% of households have such devices while in the UK, Germany, Sweden, South Korea, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the figure is below 30%. Al Haroon explained:

In October 2014, Hailo, a UK-based taxi-hailing app, released a survey of 2,000 smartphone users from the UK who use their app.  The results are interesting:  customers use their phones for a variety of purposes – with calling ranked just 6th on the list of top 10. This isn’t a surprise to us mobile operators, wherever we are in the world.  As phones get ‘smarter’, they have increased functionality; and because Qatar has one of the highest smart devices penetration levels in the world and given the findings of the aforementioned survey, which is actually a trend seen in most ICT advanced countries, we, at Vodafone, decided to help customers turn their smart handset into a gateway to newer, exciting and convenient experiences.’

Vodafone will take Scan&Go’s proof of concept into an actual implementation phase to key entertainment locations in Doha, Qatar starting from mid-December.

Vodafone Qatar joined ITU earlier this year as a sector member in ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T), which assembles experts from around the world to develop standards and protocols for the global information and communication technologies (ICT) industry.

Vodafone Qatar is the holder of the Second Public Mobile and Fixed Telecommunications Networks and Services License in the State of Qatar. With credentials of the world leader with over 20 years in Machine to Machine (M2M) technology, Vodafone Qatar switched on its mobile network on 1 March 2009 and shortly after started delivering great value to its customers with a range of exciting products and services. Having built a world class converged IP network, Vodafone launched fibre-based consumer and enterprise fixed-line services commercially in October 2012.