FMCG & Media: Tesco is rolling out free customer Wi-Fi

29 Feb 2012  |  Liz Jaques 
Angela Maurer

Tesco's head of innovation Angela Maurer confirmed that the supermarket giant is rolling out customer Wi-Fi in stores. In December, the free Wi-Fi service was made available in more than 200 Tesco Extra stores around the country.

The service, powered by O2 Wi-Fi hotspots, allows Tesco Clubcard holders to log on using their Clubcard number for unlimited service - which of course gives the supermarket access to shoppers' data. Non-Clubcard holding customers will be able to use the service for free for 15 minutes each day.

Maurer discussed the challenges for retailers at yesterday's MediaTel Group FMCG & Media event, held in association with O2 media. She explained that mobile reception is limited in many out of town stores so by making Wi-Fi available, customers will be able to use services such as price comparison apps and mobile/online coupons.

Tesco trialled the service last year and received "lots of positive feedback" from customers. The results from the trial showed that customers mostly used Wi-Fi for comparing product prices and reading reviews. 71% of trial users accessed the service via a smartphone, while 11% used a tablet to go online in-store.

Tesco have been innovating in this area and while an in store location-based coupon targeting experiment failed, Maurer was clear that the supermarket is keen to assist customers and improve their shopping experience by helping them access mobile services.

Claire Valoti, managing director of O2 Media, said supermarkets are in a great position to target customers in-store, though she added that "it needs to be the right benefit". For her, price comparison is the "obvious opportunity", though by scanning barcodes it could also allow customers to get stock updates and order products. There are also possibilities around checking-in to a store, getting loyalty points and special deals. This will no doubt become more of a reality when mobile wallets are used more widely.

Maurer talked of a joint project between Tesco and Microsoft around the customer shopping list, which directs people around stores, though she said the priority is making all new services easier for consumers.

She also admitted that one of the biggest challenges at the moment is coupons on mobile phones, which would require the supermarket to upgrade all of its tills - though she knows that the great advantage of having this technology is "talking directly to the customer".

Meanwhile, Jason Wills, senior brand manager - Desperados & Tiger Beer, Heineken UK Ltd, cited the Westfield app as a current success story - "a great example of an excellent consumer experience, which is seamless (and has been made possible by all parties working together)".

Valoti also praised the Starbucks app, which gives customers loyalty points and discounts, for being a "great experience".

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