As part of my job, I get to answer some questions that come in from Tesco shareholders who have attended recent Annual General Meetings, particularly those related to new technologies or services visible to customers.
One shareholder wanted to know why two of the mobile apps we have in the public domain, Tesco Finder and Tesco Clubcard, are not integrated together. The shareholder felt that it must be more costly running them separately. I have responded to the question via the Shareholders' response team but I thought I should echo it here as quite a few people must have asked themselves this question.
The reason for having two apps (in fact we have three apps in the iTune store - Tesco Finder, Tesco Clubcard, and Tesco Wine Finder) is because their origins and objectives are very different. However we will be integrating clubcard, finder and the forthcoming grocery application in a future build (hopefully by the end of 2010).
Tesco Finder and Tesco Wine Finder come from our R&D team - these applications were built as prototypes to see if customers would find them useful. They were created (and are supported) at very low cost inside the Tesco.com R&D team, and are listed under the "Tesco.com R&D Team" account on iTunes. We are still taking both these applications on a 'journey' based on continuous customer feedback and making sure that the supporting data is reliable and consistent. For example, we are hoping to include store layouts in a future edition so that customers can sat-nav their way around an unfamiliar branch to find all their favourite products easily.
Tesco Finder still has some work to improve the accuracy of finding barcodes in our product range, and it needs to be improved to easily answer the customer's question; "What are the nearest branches that currently stock 'this' product?", which it doesn't do at all well at the moment. It also doesn't have an up-to-date branch list, which is really annoying some customers and is a high priority to fix.
On the other hand, the Tesco Clubcard is much more of a known entity and was built as a production application from scratch. There aren't really any "unknowns" for this application. Joining it shortly will be the Tesco Grocery mobile application (currently in user-acceptance testing). These are full production applications, although once again built and supported at low cost.
In order to bring the functionality of all these applications into one integrated Tesco application, we are currently forming an internal mobile development team who will build these applications for all kinds of mobile phones, not just iPhone. We'll be appearing on all the major handset manufacturers offerings.
The R&D team exists to work with customers and staff to help improve their experience with Tesco - but where there are 'unknowns' we would rather keep the applications separate until we are happy that they are working flawlessly and customers find the functionality genuinely useful.