Saturday, 10 October 2009

Tesco Store and Product Finder - Live in the Apple iTunes App Store!

I'm delighted to tell you that our first iPhone application has just gone live in Apple's iTunes App Store.

The Tesco Store and Product Finder not only helps you to locate your nearest UK Tesco store (of any size from Express to Extra) but also will help you find any grocery product in that store by describing its aisle and shelf.

The application is free and available worldwide although it only works for UK stores and only with grocery products (rather than non-food items) at the moment.

Got an iPhone? Great: either:
  1. Go to the computer you use to sync your iPhone/iPod Touch with iTunes, then click this link (or paste to your web browser):, or
  2. Start iTunes, go the the 'iTunes Store' and search for the word 'Tesco' in the top-right corner of the iTunes application, or
  3. On your iPhone (or iPod Touch) start 'App Store', touch Search and search for 'Tesco'. You'll get " R&D Team" and "Tesco Finder" results - select either to reach the Tesco Finder application.

This application is the first piece of innovation that has come from's R&D-run IT Innovation Club, where we provide the resources, time, and stamp of approval for our staff to quickly create innovation for our customers outside of our standard production work schedule.

The Tesco Store and Product Finder was designed and built by Tom Courthold who works in's IT UI team; the data was - and is - sourced by Mike Brearley who now works in our IT branch dev team, with backend API server programming, a spot of iPhone programming (and support for the service & application) by myself.

Going forwards we'll be enhancing the application to offer:
  1. The ability for a customer to search for any grocery product and then find out the nearest stores that stock it.
  2. A link to a home shopping customer's favourites list so they can find these products in any Tesco store that stocks them.
  3. Work with the business to extend the range beyond groceries to include more non-food items such as electricals, household items and more.
Enjoy the application, and please feedback any ideas and issues to me.

Here is a set of walk-through screen shots for the Tesco Store and Product Finder. If you are a journalist and would like to use any of these images, you can - and for free without any further permission. Just click the images to get full-sized versions. The exception to this is the first screen-shot (surrounded in blue) - which consists of an excellent photograph from Flickr contributor 'LoopZilla' which has been cleared for our use (and yours) as long as you assert that he is the owner of the photo and that you link to the original at:

The opening screen starting the application on your iPhone:

The application uses iPhone's location service to detect where you are, then connects to our server to find out your nearest stores. Touch the circular arrow to get the latest location update:

Here we've touched a store name above, which causes the application to display information about the store, including its customer facilities. Note that you can bookmark the store so you can find it quickly using the 'Bookmarks' button infuture if you visit it regularly. "View Directions" starts the iPhone's Map application to help get you to the store:

Touch 'Find products in this store' above and you get to the following screen. Tap the 'search box' to make the keyboard appear, and type a product to find, followed by the 'Search' button:

The application asks our server for the product and location list based on your search:

Back comes the product list (up to 20 products) matching your search. If we have photos of any of these products, they will be shown alongside the product:

Now touch the desired product to bring up its location details, alongside a bigger image of the product - and its full location information. Tap the big question mark for extended help.


  1. Congratulations on such an innovation, Nick.

  2. What a great idea for an application... I've given you a 4-star review on the app store along with a couple of comments:

    1. Would it be possible in the future to include real-time shelf stock levels, or at least a "in stock/low stock/no stock" indicator?

    2. One downside with use of the app is that in most of the larger Tescos I've been in, it's hardly possible to get any mobile signal unless you're near the edge of the store.

    Looking forward to seeing this app develop though!

  3. Be nice if you could see the prices. You should take a look at "redlaser" it has APIs that allow scanning barcodes, be good to integrate that feature into it.

  4. Yes we're looking at providing prices - we don't have realtime access to that info at the moment so we could only show guide prices - but I guess that would be better than nothing.

    We'll see what we can do (and make sure it is OK with the business!).

  5. It would be nice to see a floor plan for stores to make the location information more obvious. Also if you could overlay a pushpin onto that floor plan to show where the item is that would be good.

  6. You can't get a phone signal in my Tesco store, so some kind of customer wifi connection might be useful for this app. I'd definately use it since I can never find what I'm looking for.

  7. The product searching should make it more obvious that it's only returning the first ... 50 matches (if that). Thinking of an abvious possibility if someone were looking for paracetamol and didn't want to type the whole word in and used 'par' then they would never see paracetamol on the list. You get a bunch of vegetables "Asparagus", "Parsnips". I've got a stinking headache I want some pain relief lol.

  8. Clicking on the "view directions" button yielded no response. I had to push it a few times to be taken to Google maps. Might be better as just a view on map button. Then the user can do the directions thing themself if required. (Just a thought)

  9. Anyway, regardless of my previous comments. Awesome application and a cracking idea.

  10. Hi Jon - thanks for your comments.

    I've just altered the maximum returned products up from 20 to 40 thanks to your feedback - you're quite right about using partial names for searching.

    We'll take your other comments forward for future updates. I like the floor plan idea - we'll see if we can get the data!

  11. Are there any plans to make sure all the data this application accesses are available via the API? Off the top of my head, at least the location-in-store data isn't available, and might be useful for other applications, such as an app to make a shopping list for you, sorted by location within the store.
    Also, it'd be quite useful to have a check-box on the front store-finding screen to show only stores that are currently open.

  12. I think this is great that Tesco is using innovation to make customers' lives easier. I realise I may be contravening blog etiquette by pitching an idea, but my agency has an idea for a simple add-on that would make this app even more useful. Would love to share it. Peter.

  13. It would be great if you could walk around with your iPhone, scanning the barcodes on the products (using RedLaser), as you take them off the shelves. The app would be linked to your credit card, and automatically charge you for the products as you walk out the entrance of the shop. It would be such a simple way to shop.

    It would also be great if the app remembered what you bought last time you were at the shop, and presented you with a Shopping List of your common items. It could even dynamically sort them by Nearest Item, based on your current location and the location of the products in the shop. That way, users would do as little walking as possible, moving around the shop in the most efficient way.

    If the app was linked to an online Tesco Account, that held your name, address, phone number and credit card details, what would be the harm in letting people shop this way?

  14. Hi. I used your app when it was first released but it doesn't seem to work anymore. Is it likely to be up and running again as I found it invaluable.


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: