Tesco looks to ‘trailblaze’ in tech as it launches Google Glass app

Tesco is looking to cement its first-mover in new technology status among the supermarkets as it becomes the first UK retailer to launch an app for Google Glass.

The Tesco Grocery glassware app lets shoppers add items to their shopping basket through a voice search for a product, which results in a list of available items appearing on the device.

Users can also scan product barcodes using the device’s camera and view nutritional information all while hands-free, then using the Tesco Groceries app to manage their shopping basket, book delivery and check out.

While Google Glass allows anyone to make apps for it, Tesco is the first major retailer in the UK to do so. Other UK brands such as Virgin Atlantic, Max Factor, YSL and Edinburgh Airport have made apps for the technology, but most other moves have come from the US.

A Tesco spokeswoman told Marketing Week that having been first in online ordering and pioneered click and connect the supermarket is keen to experiment with emerging trends that “may impact the ways customers want to shop”.

“Wearable tech is still in the early stage of its own development – it isn’t mainstream. We are launching this now so we are in position where we can understand from customers how they want to use wearable tech to shop with us,” she said.

Tesco does not see wearable technology replacing mobile shopping but as an enhancement. It outlines a number of use cases where it thinks the app could help shoppers.

For example if a customer notices the orange juice is running low they could instruct the app to automatically top up their shopping list. Equally if they see order a bottle of wine in a restaurant they won’t have to take a note of it, instead ordering Google Glass to take a picture and add it to their online basket.

The app is by nature experimental, with Tesco encouraging people using the app to feedback on how they are using it and future development ideas. Tesco said Google Glass could also be used in future to help store colleagues with customer service or in-store shoppers complete their purchases.

“There are so many possibilities, this is still new technology with massive potential with consumers in general. This is about the potential for us as a company to respond to customers,” said the spokeswoman.

Tesco is using Tesco Labs to develop the app, a research, development, design and innovation hub that it launched last year in order to learn from start-ups and SMEs.

The hub is an effort to find answers to challenges the retailer is facing surrounding creating “great customer experiences”.

The move is part of the supermarket group’s plans to ensure it stays ahead of rivals in the grocery space. CEO Dave Lewis, speaking at an event last week (8 January), said he wants to get Tesco back to being “innovative at its core” highlighting schemes such as its Payqwik mobile payents trial which is currently running at a few locations in London.

He said Tesco will look to “simple, smart, different” ways of engaging with customers as it looks to return to growth following a dismal 2014. Tesco’s Christmas sales fell by 2.9%.

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