Pop-up stores on trains

21st January 2014

As the demands of modern life cut into our leisure time, some businesses are experimenting with mobile pop-up stores as ways for people to get more done during their daily routine without putting in any extra effort – or simply enjoy their downtime more. Commuting is a prime example of time which would be better spent either at the office already or at home catching up on the things you need to do – so this week we were interested to see two innovative new pop-ups appear on trains.

The Swiss Starbucks exterior

Groceries for commuters

This pop-up grocery store is being trialled in Seoul where commuters can buy their groceries on their journey home from work. Situated on one of the South Korean capital’s Metro (underground) trains the fully functioning store gives a commuters an opportunity to get on with their lives and free up more ‘me’  time once they disembark from their daily commute.

The fresh meat counter at the pop-up grocery store on the Seoul metro

This picture was taken by a student travelling into the city, showing the store’s fresh meat section. You may remember we reported last year on the first experimental QR grocery store in Seoul, also based in metro stations.  There commuters could shop for goods by using their smart phones to scan QR codes attached to images of groceries, arranged on the metro station walls. So this is yet another example of how the forward-thinking city is experimenting with attempts to ease the daily grind for it’s 9.8 million inhabitants. The beauty of a pop-up store is that it is an inexpensive and interesting way to test the market before rolling out something more substantial – we’d love to see something like this rolled out on the London underground – mind the bacon baps!

Riding the caffeine train

Over to Switzerland now where the ubiquitous Starbucks have teamed up with Swiss railway company SBB to create the first ‘Starbucks on a train’. The first coffee house on rails was opened on  21 November 2013, and the double-decker carriage makes two trips a day from Geneva to St. Gallen, with a second coach set to launch on the same route in spring 2014. Following this initial test period Starbucks and SBB will decide whether to roll the service out to more routes and possibly other countries.

The take-away service on the Starbucks train

As you can see from these pictures the interior of the double decker carriage  was totally redesigned to create a sleek interior with a take-away service on the lower deck and seated cafe area on the upper deck with seating for up to 50 people. The colour palette was inspired by the coffee itself, with dark roasted bean browns complimenting creamy steamed milk coloured walls. Outside the train is decorated with bold red white and green Starbucks decals so there is no mistaking which end the buffet car can be found!

The cafe on the Starbucks train seats 50 people

Liz Muller, Director of Design Concept of Starbuck describes the project:

“It was an incredible and rewarding challenge to design our first ever Starbucks store on a train…we had to combine functionality and beautiful design, whilst taking into account a variety of factors such as constant movement of the train, space limitation and stringent safety regulations. This is one of the smallest espresso bars and stores we have ever designed and is a result of a unique collaboration of experts, including local designers and engineers from SBB.”

So do you think the Starbucks on Rails concept could catch on here in the UK? Then there really will be a Starbucks in every town – albeit momentarily as it whizzes through to it’s next destination.


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