Wednesday, 29 September 2010

In the future use Tesco Finder app to "scan as you shop"

Tesco Finder, our R&D app currently available for iPhone, is ideal for trying out new ideas that come in from customers and staff. Not all ideas will be implemented but we like to try them out in a research context to test the art of the possible.

Here's one example: use Tesco Finder to scan items as you proceed to shop in a Tesco store then have the app transfer the scanned items to a self-scan checkout so you don't have to re-scan them.

To make it work, the self-scan checkout has a special barcode which Tesco Finder uses to identify it. When the customer arrives at the checkout, they scan the identifying barcode and then put the items into bags as normal. While they are bagging the products, the app connects to a wifi network and sends the scanned products contained in a file (named with the self-scan checkout's identifier) to a staging server.

All the checkouts monitor the server continuously waiting for a file 'with their name on it' whereupon it is downloaded and ingested into the checkout software in an instant. The scanned products are displayed on the screen as if the customer had scanned them in to the checkout manually.

All the customer has to do then is pay and go. Nice and quick - and fits snugly with Tesco Finder's philosophy of helping the customer get quickly to the products.

Now please remember that this is a proof of concept and not going into Tesco Finder's production version any time soon. R&D is here to prove that the technology can deliver an improvement in the customer service without major system rewriting - and so our job here is completed successfully.

We now have to leave to our security and production IT people to understand how Tesco could detect customer who doesn't quite scan everything that goes into their basket....

This special proof-of-concept addition to the features of Tesco Finder was developed by Ben Martin who has recently joined R&D from his 'old' Tesco PLC equivalent team - and then proceeded to work with both Dotcom and 'PLC together to help the deliver the project. Ben is also well known for delivering the Tesco Clubcard app for iPhone, so Tesco Finder is in capable hands.


  1. Excellent. Much the same way as I used a Symbol device instore in Albert Hein in Holland in the early 2000s and currently in the Swedish ICA Supermarket to self scan...

    "We now have to leave to our security and production IT people to understand how Tesco could detect customer who doesn't quite scan everything that goes into their basket...."

    In Sweden, they just do random checks where the system forces you to go through a manual checkout every once in a while.

    But, how would you get around mobile dead spots? One of the big extra's in Bristol seems like it is almost like inside a faraday cage for mobile reception!

  2. An interesting idea, I find using a camera phone to scan a barcode can be frustrating so it might prove a little difficult to use when shopping.

    Have you thought about equipping the shopping carts with something special and secure so we can attach our smart phone to the handle and read it easily as we navigate the store & shopping list. Sadly I guess it would make it too easy for our phones to get stolen.

    On a similar thought, what are Tesco doing about using RFID tags, is it still years off, or has it been abandoned due to privacy or cost? I really look forward to the day I can bag my shopping as I go and wheel my trolley thought a RFID scanner and pay self-service style. You know, I really don't care if random people can scan my bags and tell that I've purchased Tesco value cheese, pickle and some rolls!

    Also whilst your tinkering with ideas, how about getting something on the club card that lets me tell your system I would like a copy of the receipt emailed to me instead of using the paper receipt?

    Keep up the innovations!

  3. Hi Nick,
    Please do contact me to see what we can offer you in a way of a barcode scanner that works with the apple i-phone,touch and even have a blackberry cradle. I have sent you an email.

  4. iPhone? That would be a Nexus One running Android in the picture.

  5. ...Oh, and erm, an iPhone in the actual article pic. Oops.


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