Simon Says: Supermarkets can do so much more with Social & Technology


Technology is designed to make our lives easier, faster and ultimately more fun.

Tesco is my supermarket of choice. This isn’t because it’s the nearest shop to me. Nor is it because I think they are the cheapest. It might have something to do with the fact I worked for almost all of the other big chain supermarkets in my teens and still have a little grudge about being treated poorly for minimum wage, but I think the main reason I’ll go to Tescos is the clubcard.

At the start of 2011 I purchased my first iPhone. When I got it home I immediately started downloading apps. Once I’d got Angry Birds, Facebook & Twitter I started to search for the more "specific" apps for me. I found the Tesco Clubcard app and moved straight over.

The app told me how many points I’ve got, had the cards barcode in it and gave me hints and tips on where to spend my points. A small but valuable touch from the "Every Little Helps" supermarket.

As the year rolled on I noticed other things the supermarket could do to improve its service and increase sales by utilising this app and social.

Firstly, when you’re at the checkout, ask us if we want a receipt. Not everyone does for every transaction. Also how about electronic receipts in the iPhone app like Square provide. This will cut down on paper and the nuisance of carrying around loads of slips of paper.

On the receipt itself, Tesco tell us where we’ve saved...but not where we could have saved money. If I purchase an apple, and they were on 3 for 2, but I didn’t see the sign, I’d like to know that for next time. Having that "push alert" or "custom deals" tab for me specifically will get me back in the store more often. They could also have a push alert telling me the deal(s) I am "watching" or have "used" but are about to expire. Although this might get annoying, so a "opt-out" option would be useful.

I get a monthly letter giving me deals / coupons "specific to me" based on my shopping history. A great idea and it works well to get me in the store...but it doesn’t make sense why this also isn't on the iPhone. I am far more likely to remember to take my iPhone to the supermarket than the coupons. Know your very modern, tech-savvy audience Tesco...

On Facebook and Twitter, Tesco have put their foot in the door with a mighty "sales" push. They have one for clothing, careers, magazine, diets, real food, offers, insurance, the list goes on and on...but no Twitter accounts for stores. This sounds like a mammoth task (and it would be) but imagine the value you would give your customers if you allowed them to Tweet ahead of time to stock check their items are available or even sold there, or just to complain / compliment about the store.

Tesco are in a unique position where they can actually have some "fun" with their customers. My local store has the better part of 1,000 Check Ins on FourSquare. People have given some tips and it's even in one List. Why not give an "opt-in" option so you can Check In when you Check Out simply by syncing their FourSquare details to their Clubcard. They could go one step further and say, give double points to the Mayor of each store...but that might just be a pipedream of mine.

Crowdsourcing has been massive in 2011 and it will only grow in 2012. Supermarkets should grab this with both hands. Everyone buys food, and has an opinion on the items. Why not allow people to review products by logging in with their Facebook account...this way you can see what your Friends, Friends of Friends and "everyone else" thinks of products before you buy. These trusted reviews help make or break products on sites like Amazon.

I would put a large amount of money on it that a lot of Tesco customers cook actual meals. They’ll buy the ingredients and fancy themselves as a bit of a Jamie Oliver. I’d love to see a crowdsourced recipe app. Where I can order the ingredients, should I want to try and make it, or even better, get told where in the shop I can find the items if I go to the store. Some of the larger stores have too many departments and if it’s not my "regular" store, I do have to ask for directions. They must know that dried cranberries are on aisle 20, half way down, 2nd shelf up...this will help satisfy a new generation of mobile-shoppers. And you can't always find a member of staff, and when you do they don't always know where the item is if it isn't in "their department".

With over 1 in every 8 pounds in the UK being spent in Tesco, they’ve got a buck or two to spare to invest back into the people who keep them going. Although I’ve been Tesco-centric I firmly believe most of the other "big four" could make more use of the customers, technology and social media.

Photo (cc) Jimmy Hilario


Really interesting article.

Really interesting article.  Mobile is going to be increasingly important for Supermarkets in 2012, but they have a long way to go to deliver the service that consumers expect.  Our analysis into their social media behaviour ( shows that while investment is high (especially by Tesco who are pouring money into FB media), they are still learning how to add value that will translate into sales - but it will happen, and mobile is likely to accelarate that trend.