Thursday, 18 August 2011

Tesco Triathlon app review

We've been evaluating a mobile application we set up for those participating in the Tesco Charity Triathlon last month. The app was created by mobile specialists mBlox so that triathletes could enjoy personal updates as the triathlon deadline approached. In this article, Ben Martin (who took part in the triathlon itself and raised £370 in the process!) shares his experiences with how the app - and its underlying content delivery system - worked for our event.

Ben writes:

Last month we trialled a pre-release beta technology from mBlox in an exclusive Tesco Charity Triathlon 2011 application. The application provided a method of keeping participants posted with the latest information about the event.

For this year’s Tesco Charity Triathlon we thought it would be great if the participants who attended the event could receive automatic updates about what was going on before, during and after the day. We worked closely with mBlox to create a mobile application for Android devices that could do just that.

The finished application had an HTML5 dashboard widget for uploading content (images, blog/Twitter posts, plain text and even video) that could then be sent to everyone who had the application installed on their Android device. We could even restrict the distribution to a defined location of our choice. The widget also provided analytical data reports of users who had downloaded the content and time they had spent viewing.

Before the Triathlon we used the app to send out useful information such as charity details, training tips/advice, blog entries from our leadership team, race numbers and race day details. During the event we published images of participants taking place in each of the activities and contestants could send images to us, which we could upload. After the day we sent out info on the winners, final messages from sponsors and info on the total raised for charity (impressively it was over £200,000!!).

Here’s an example screenshot taken from within the App:

The purpose of the trial was not only to keep participants up to date on the event but also so we could investigate the process of sending and receiving relevant information, and the value this would provide to the end user and to Tesco. We were also very keen to find out how valuable the analytical data was and how it could be used to improve future communications.

Sending and receiving information to mobile phones in a timely manner using technology is a research topic that we wanted to get some experience. Once we have completed the research we can think about how we might use this to incorporate this functionality into our existing customer applications or use it for our own internal communication methods. An idea that springs to mind is an app that can send delivery details to van drivers and we would receive confirmation on them receiving the info.

What we found out:
The application proved to send relavant information very quickly to the end users mobile device (instantly in fact) and was very reliable. It was really useful to have data that confirmed delivery of the content and even detailed when it had been read. Potentially this information could allow us to become more effective at our communication.

Another valuable learning from the trial was the speed in which mBlox helped us to deliver such a technology to market. Without their help we would not have been able to achieve this on such tight timescales due to our other commitments – thank you mBlox!

Thanks to all those who took part in the technology trial, we will continue to investigate its value and have passed on our learnings to our Mobile Development team.


  1. what exactly did mBlox provide? App development? How this is linked to their SMS business model?

  2. So a Triathlon app which is of very limited appeal or purpose to the wider general public but WHERE IS THE ANDROID CLUBCARD APP ? it is at this point we all become suspicious that a certain other mobile phone company is offering sweeteners of sorts to key Tesco personnel in order to hinder Android device sales.
    I bought my phone from Tesco, I am on Tesco Mobile network yet I am unable to have a clubcard app as I am on an Android device, it is unacceptable that I have to take a photograph of a physical Clubcard in order to use my 'phone at the checkout!


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!

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4. Insulting / obscene messages.

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