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Waitrose moots in-store iPad usage

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Upmarket grocer Waitrose is in the early planning stages of an initiative that could see iPads used in stores to aid customer experience at the point of sale, it was announced yesterday.

The supermarket group has been in discussions with experts at manufacturer Apple regarding how it might incorporate the technology into its everyday operations.

In a speech to delegates yesterday at The Retail Conference event in London, organised by Retail Acumen, Waitrose’s Head of Web Selling & Online Marketing Nick Marley said the retailer will prototype a product of this nature and potentially also provide its delivery drivers to take the devices with them on home shopping drop-offs.

No final decision has been made by Waitrose, but the use of such technology would be a logical step for the purpose of up-selling at the point of purchase, by highlighting suitable wine to accompany a meal for example, or allowing for real-time customer feedback to be linked into the business’s central systems.

“We are testing and learning – it’s about trialling without having to put huge investment in,” explained Marley.

“Using iPad technology has been identified as a way of removing prohibitive costs and solving complex problems.”

Initial concerns that Waitrose’s high proportion of older shoppers may not be receptive to the use of advanced technology in stores have receded, and Marley argues that the increasing use of mobile technology in the average retail environment proves there is a demand for tools that speed up and enhance the convenience of shopping.

Waitrose moved into m-commerce in July 2010 with the launch of its first ever iPhone app and mobile website, and following various adjustments over the following months is encouraged by customers’ interaction with these solutions.

It is thought that close to one-fifth of online grocery transactions were made using, at first, a mobile app.

Marley says that Waitrose shoppers use transactional sites for immediacy and apps for engagement, such learning about wine ranges, and any use of the iPad would potentially provide both services.

“Real-time feedback and connections with companies will not just change the way we work as retailers but change the way we function as businesses,” he added.

“We’re going after technology and it is not just the younger audience who demand it; the older demographic are saying they want things that make their lives easier too.”

Published on Thursday 22 September by Editorial Assistant

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