Monday, 24 August 2009 to create its own iPhone Grocery application

I thought we should let you know that our leadership team have asked us to look into creating an iPhone application of our own. Since TJAM, they have been really excited by the ideas and opportunities that have arisen and feel that we should also give our internal developers the opportunity to learn how to program for the iPhone.

We haven't taken this decision lightly now that we are fostering a developer community and we would still welcome some healthy competition from you - we're aiming to create a simple application that can do the basics of grocery shopping well, so there will still be plenty of opportunities for other third party iPhone applications to use the Tesco API to explore grocery shopping in a more fun and imaginative way.

There is some good news for third-party developers though - we have been given the go ahead to invest in a 'deep link' secure checkout web page designed for mobile use that will enable customers to checkout with confidence. All third party developers will have access to this checkout page.

We haven't agreed the scope yet, but we're expecting that the Tesco-owned grocery application will allow the customer to search for products from categories, and by text searching. It will also access the customer's favourites list and manage their basket. The software will use the forthcoming beta API and has no secret privileged access to our service so will not present an 'unfair advantage' over third party apps.

We have never said 'never' when it comes to writing applications ourselves but we don't want to discourage anyone from writing their own. However, occasionally we will want to reserve the right to step into a marketplace ourselves with a 'basic' application.

We have only just made this decision and we wanted to let Tesco API developers know immediately so they know where they stand. All I ask is that developers rise to the challenge and take on our application, now I've described it, with something better.


  1. An app to photo barcodes (and hence scan them) as products are used up, allowing automatic adding of products to the person's shopping basket strikes me as a rather obvious/useful thing. Could also auto-offer refills rather than wasteage.

    I'm sure you've thought of that mind you, 'tis rather obvious.

  2. Hey Michael, the camera on most mobile phones (anything under 3.2MP) is unfortunately not good enough for barcode scanning of normal barcodes. If it was you could do some really cool things as you suggest ! Still there is always TScan (working on it !) F

  3. Something I'm still quite nervous about is collecting login information from users.

    If, for instance, I was to make a wishlist site that could look on many different shops and add items to baskets in many different places, then I would want to allow a user to 'associate' a site's account with their account on my site (to save them having to type in their username and password every time). Doing that with a shopping sites like Tesco though sounds incredibly insecure.

    I'm sure I've commented before that an approach like OAuth is much more suited for authorising account access without giving away login information to a third-party app. Just look at Twitter... even they've changed to preferring OAuth for login and authorisation for semi-permanent account access.

  4. Hi Nick

    Great idea on iPhone app

    I noted your reference to "invest in a 'deep link' secure checkout web page designed for mobile use"

    I'm aware of a new startup, which will make this frictionless, enabling cash customers to pay online via their mobile, and indeed from within the iphone application itself.

    Feel free to drop me a line - fergus.burns AT

    Best Regards

  5. Hi Duncan,

    I understand you concerns so I'm delighted to say that we will indeed by adopting OAuth going forward - see my recent blog entry on this topic.

    Best regards
    Nick Lansley

  6. Ocado already have their Iphone App up & running.

    Is there a list where i can sign-up to receive notification when the tesco one is released?


  7. Nick, I just received my first iPhone last week and thru exploring apps and comments for it I came across your site, via news articles re the Tesco plans. Sitting down here in Australia I had to read your post a couple of times as it is so refreshingly mature and advanced as far as IT and retail goes, compared to here!

    Your encouragement of the whole ecosystem is really what stunned me as this is outside of our box in what I see here. But it's a fabulous source of wealth creation for everyone in the ecosystem if you can get it right.

    Coming back to the basics, what I think about when I think of a "simple" but useful shopping app is (1) access to mark specials and reminders (from the online catalogue), (2) suggestions a la Amazon based upon past purchase patterns and specials, (3) option to call wife as part of check-out to ensure nothing forgotten without dropping out of app (4) ability for wife to IM into app while it is open and running at store, and perhaps ambitiously "cash out" option show approval code to cashier.

    OH and add JIFFY ID (TescoID) ability to enter Tesco shelf/product/item code to get new info and whatever.

    Walter Adamson @g2m

  8. Any word on when the Tesco app will be available? Saw that the first version was rejected by Apple :(

  9. How about an app for Android aswell?


As this blog grows in readership - and because it carries the Tesco brand - I have had to become more careful about the sort of comments that are acceptable. The good news is that I'm a champion of free speech so please be as praising or as critical as you wish! The only comments I DON'T allow through are:

1. Comments which criticise an individual other than myself, or are critical of an organisation other than Tesco. This is simply because they cannot defend themselves so is unfair and possibly libellous. Comments about some aspect of Tesco being better/worse than another equivalent organisation are allowed as long as you start by saying "in my personal opinion.." or "I think that...". ... followed by a "...because.." and some reasoned argument.

2. Comments which are totally unrelated to the context of the original article. If I have written about a mobile app and you start complaining about the price of potatoes then your comment isn't going stay for long!

3. Advertising / web links / spam.

4. Insulting / obscene messages.

Ok, rules done - now it's your go: