Friday, 13 August 2010

Nokia app feedback (and time for a commercial break)

Well now it's been quite a week.

The Tesco Groceries app for Nokia appeared on the OVI store and now we have several thousand customers enjoying shopping on their mobile.

What's really nice is that they are using the app as we hoped - most are adding to basket "little and often" throughout this last week, according to the evidence from our anonymised internal log files.

Nokia are so delighted that they've added us to a 30-second TV commercial promoting apps on the OVI store. They've sent me the complete TV commercial schedule but the best thing to do is look out for it at the following dates and times in August (ITV1 region and exact time the commercial is actually transmitted):
  • Fri 13 (tonight) at 8:58pm after Coronation Street in London (only).
  • Sat 14 during Magic Numbers on ITV1 (8:50pm London, 8:45pm MidWest and Scotland, 8:15pm North and SouthWest).
  • Sat 14 during The Simpsons on Sky1 at 8:10pm
  • Sunday 15 during Alan Carr: Chatty Man on Channel 4 at 10:15pm (nationwide).
  • Sat 21 during X-Factor on ITV1 (8:45pm London, 7:45pm SouthEast, MidWest and Scotland, 8:30pm North). Yes.... X-Factor is starting up again.. must be nearly Christmas....!
The commercial is also showing on ITV2, Living, MTV and E4 here-and-there until the end of August.

Our PR agency Komodo PR has done a great job getting the word out in to the right corners so well done to Adrian and his crack team of wordsmiths, and of course our own Jessica in Marketing too. (Yes I know: the 2,500 of you who follow this blog have been in the loop all along).

I'm taking a few days out to go mountain-biking in the South Downs and hurling myself into the waters around Pevensey Bay in East Sussex. The hubby and I have just bought a caravan off eBay and we're taking it down to the seaside - in the past, guest houses have become upset about two muddy blokes with their two muddy bikes and a happy but super-muddy dog - a second-hand caravan is the perfect solution.

I don't care if it rains - the joy of being splashed and muddy will be a nice break from the tech... for a short time anyway. Besides, if I need a quick fix it's a short trip to Brighton and to Ribot HQ to say hi to the people there polishing up our forthcoming iPhone grocery app.

Here are links to mentions of the app we have spotted (thanks to Komodo for this list):

Friday, 6 August 2010

Who are Ribot, and why did we make them our mobile partner?

Our grocery home shopping application for Nokia phones (and soon, iPhone) was designed and built for us by a Brighton-based company called Ribot. But who are they?

Brothers Antony and Jerome Ribot (that's a French surname) came to our attention when we sent out a tender invitation to the world of mobile development companies. Many companies responded and we interviewed representatives of the most compelling responses to our invitation. All the companies we interviewed were professional, engaging, and thoughtful when it came to the ideas they had to help us deliver a great mobile shopping application.

Most of the representatives were dressed in suits and came across as ‘sober professionals’ who would deliver a ‘sober professional’ product. We saw plans, gantt charts and basic designs for home shopping.

The Ribot brothers didn’t come across that way at all.

Both Antony and Jerome arrived at HQ in ‘smart casual’. It’s not a look we are particularly used to when we are being visited by people who are aiming to impress us. We got over it: To look at them and listen to them made us feel we were onto something special; they had an energy about them; they fizzed with a professional creativity mixed with skill and experience from years of developing mobile apps.

The Ribot brothers listened to our requirements, made notes and sketches as we talked, and walked us through some basic concepts that might help improve the customer’s grocery journey.

However when Antony and Jerome returned a couple of weeks later with a detailed walkthrough of the application, we couldn’t quite believe it: They had designed the application quite deliberately such that the customer could use it for grocery home shopping in either a Tesco store or that of competitor.

The design was crafted as an easy to use generic grocery shopping list into which you could write anything - “carrots”, “potatoes”, “rice-crispies”, “chocolate cake”. If you wanted to take the phone and use it in any supermarket, you could. Read the list and tap a tick-box to confirm you had added it to your basket as you walked the store. A Tesco store. An ASDA store. A Sainsbury’s store.

We pointed this out to Ribot. They smiled. You see, the power of this design enabled to us to help take the customer on a journey into Tesco:

Sure you can use this in any store, says the design, but if you register at Tesco and give me your registration details, I can give you Tesco prices for your list - complete with special offers”.

Then, .. “Sure I can show you Tesco prices, but if you add this product to your basket, I could have it conveniently delivered to your home”.

In other words, anyone can use this app for their grocery lists, shopping anywhere - and if that’s they way they want it to stay, fine. Nevertheless, the app might convince its user to see if Tesco might sell their shopping list for a cheaper price, perhaps with special offers. When customers see the prices and offers, the app might persuade its user to see if they could save time by having their shopping list delivered.

It was the sort of thinking that had never occurred to us; the sort of thinking that would make our application one that lots of people - not just Tesco customers - would find useful; the sort of thinking that could take a willing user on a journey into Tesco grocery home shopping.

Ribot were awarded the contract and their development team in Brighton have delivered a grocery home shopping application for Nokia - and soon for iPhone - with functionality we are proud of.

When I think back to our original meeting and maybe a passing puzzlement why the Ribot brothers didn’t dress to impress, the answer is obvious now: Their level of design thinking for mobile devices impresses all on its own.

I have no business lean or contractual obligation to promote Ribot. I can’t even buy shares in them. But credit where credit is due: If a person or organisation deeply impresses me, then I won't hesitate to promote them in this blog. It's my reputation on the line here, so I'll use it as I wish.

For more about Ribot go to their website:

BREAKING: Tesco Grocery app for Nokia now live to customers on OVI store

I've just been informed within the last 10 minutes that our Nokia grocery home shopping application for Nokia S60-series phones is now live for download by customers from the Nokia OVI store.

If you have a Nokia phone model 800, N97, N97 mini, X6, 5230 or 5530 then you're all set:
Download and enjoy!

Why have we snubbed iPhone by launching grocery on Nokia?

I have lots of interesting feedback from readers wondering why we we went for Nokia first and (as GoMo News put it, "Tesco snubs iPhone with mobile commerce application").

First of all we actually haven't snubbed iPhone. Ribot have built grocery apps for both Nokia and iPhone and we're just finishing user-acceptance testing of the iPhone version which will give you a similar experience to the walkthrough I posted yesterday.

You know me by now - I love iPhone!

But it's not about me, is it: It's about thinking of our customers and the sort of phones they have. I have written before about 'Busy Mums', and there are are other demographic groups core to our online grocery business.  You'll also recall that I wrote recently about our Venn Diagram of core demographic shoppers and iPhone users and finding there wasn't much overlap. So when we did look at the sort of phones that they have, we spotted that plenty of them had Nokia phones, so we invited Nokia to come and map their phone data on our demographic data and we both confirmed much more overlap with their Series-60 smart phones than we did with iPhone. Maybe not a surprise, but we needed to see the evidence.

With this data staring at us - and with three iPhone apps from Tesco already deployed - it just made sense to try this out with Nokia first. Yes of course Nokia are delighted with our decision and they will be showcasing the Tesco grocery app in their OVI store awareness marketing, and we thank them for that!

But R&D, as a value to our business, is about examining the facts ruthlessly and following the evidence relentlessly - and the biggest cold hard fact is that a much greater percentage of our core customer base for online grocery have a Series-60 Nokia phone than an iPhone.

It's also a fact that Nokia's latest phones are capable internet devices and have become savvy at running apps. Customers will enjoy a good grocery shopping experience on their phone.

However, iPhone fans, a grocery application from Tesco will be reaching you during the course of September. Far from snubbing iPhone, I think we (or rather, Ribot) have done that device proud, as you will see.

Until then please allow our Nokia-owning customers enjoy a first crack of the app whip for once!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Walkthrough of Tesco Grocery app for Nokia phones

Let's take a walk-through of our new grocery home shopping application for Nokia phones to give you a sense of what it looks like and how it works.

We start with the opening screen, which enables you to reserve a delivery slot for your order (or change it for a pending order). It also allows you to type in generic grocery product names as a shopping reminder.

You can use the shopping list as just that - a list to shop in-store (any store not just Tesco) if you wish: tap the box next to each generic item and a tick appears to show you've picked it up. Of course if you tap the product itself, the ability to search for it at Tesco is available...

Whether searching from your generic list or typing it in manually, you can find any product available in your home store. You can see prices and special offers. Items can be added straight to the basket from here. If it's already in your basket, you'll see the product in green with a quantity figure and a 'remove' button in case you wish to remove it (as in the example above).

Likewise, your favourites are available (see screen above). Favourites are all products that have been brought online or in-store using your registered Tesco Clubcard. You can see all your favourites or filter them to just those that we have an offer at this time.

If you prefer to browse through the product categories, you can find products this way too, as shown on the screen above. Products are arranged through three category steps - department, aisle and shelf (for example, "bakery" then "bread" then "brown bread").

Offers and special deals get their own screen (above), just like they do on the Tesco grocery web site. Ideal if you want some inspiration or enjoy looking at our discounts.

The basket (shown above) is fully editable, so you can add and remove items or update their quantities. The basket synchronises with the one in your account on the grocery web site, so it won't forget your changes. This is perfect for shopping "little and often" throughout the week as you build up your basket. If you already have an order pending delivery, you can switch to it, amend the basket (add /update / remove items) and save it (the system will send you an updated email that shows the new delivery list). You can mix adding to your basket on the web and on the phone throughout the week - both will keep each other up to date.

Here is the delivery slot page - you can reserve a slot at any time as you build your basket.

Checking-out is performed using an online web page especially designed for the Nokia screen. The grocery app will send you straight there for checkout. We needed to do it this way because it is the most secure and copes if your card is registered with 3D Secure services such as MasterCard SecureCode or Verified By Visa and you need to type in your 3D Secure passphrase (it keeps our PCI DSS compliance straightforward as well):

And that's it! We absolutely love this app and it's hats off to the designers and developers at Ribot, our mobile design and development partner, who have thoroughly thought through the experience for the small screen.

I was particularly inspired by Ribot's design idea that customers could use this app simply as their grocery shopping reminder list and for checking Tesco prices and offers if they wish. Customers with this app can find it useful even if they don't want to do grocery home shopping with us. It took a mind leap for me to "get' this, given that we want to promote mobile grocery home shopping. However the app does this - it just doesn't force it. Customers can use as little or as much of its functionality as they want. So whether you use the app as a glorified generic shopping list memo pad, or to check Tesco offers (these are in-store as well as online), add items to your basket as you remember them, or go for the full blown grocery shop, our little Nokia app can be there for you.

Now I think that's a design philosophy that we could do with learning more about.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Tesco Grocery App for Nokia phones submitted to OVI store

Last night we submitted our most ambitious mobile application yet to Nokia's OVI app store.

It's a simple but complete grocery home application which allows you to search for products and add them to your online basket. It has full access to your favourites and all special offers so you can shop for groceries on the move. You can even amend an order that is checked-out awaiting delivery in order to add to (or alter) the basket or delivery slot.

The app is synchronised with your grocery account so everything you do on the phone is applied to the web version of your basket (and vice versa) when an internet connection is available. It uses the Tesco Grocery API for all its back-end services.

The Tesco Grocery app will work on the following Nokia handsets - the S60 series: 5800, N97, N97 mini, X6, 5230 and 5530.

The app was developed for us by a small and specialist mobile development company, Ribot, who I think have done an amazing job of delivering such a rich application to the small Nokia screens.

The app should be available from the Nokia OVI store in the next few days once Nokia's OVI quality assurance team have given it the once-over.

I'll talk more about our thinking behind the app, give you a complete walkthrough, and introduce you to some of the people at Ribot (explaining why we chose them) over the next couple of days here on this blog.

If I were to be quoted, I'd say: The Tesco Grocery app is so easy to use. Simply sign in, book a delivery slot, build or amend a shopping list and check out. Tesco groceries to your door, from your mobile phone.

Updated: (link) Nice article on the app and our thinking from Ronan Shields at Marketing Week and (same text) at New Media Age.