The UK’s number one grocer Tesco is set to trial a free Wi-Fi service for customers within four stores across the UK, potentially leading to a nationwide rollout in the months ahead.
It comes as eDigital Research data, published earlier this year, suggested that 35 per cent of smartphone users now shop online using their handsets, and Tesco’s decision will enable customers to read reviews and compare prices online as they walk through the supermarket’s aisles.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Tesco’s Chief Information Officer Mike McNamara said that the move is in line with consumer behaviours that have developed over the last year.
“You can stand Canute-like and pretend nothing is happening … or you can say it’s happening, and I am going to help it happen,” he explained.
Former Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy argued at a London Business Forum event last year that mobile will be one of the major growth areas in retail over the next few years, and his previous employer has been one of the most prominent retailers to embrace new mobile technologies.
Nick Lansley, Head of Research and Development at Tesco.com, announced on his blog recently that the company was trialling a sat-nav system in its Romford store, which allows customers to track down their favourite items using a mobile handset.
Using a new app, designed specifically for the process, customers with Android mobile phones will be able to plot the quickest way around the store to find their desired items.
Lansley explained: “The new service is able to show you where all your wanted products are on a store map, show you where you are on that map, and guide you round the store to pick up your products using the shortest route.”