Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tesco supports m-retail... or does it?

For those of you who don't know already, I spent the best part of 10 years of my working life in retail - mostly fashion, and mostly in and around London's Oxford Street and Knightsbridge. Later on in my career, I worked for ZagMe, the location based marketing company who marketed to customers via SMS at Lakeside and Bluewater shopping malls, and much of that time was spent working with retailers creating and running campaigns for them. So I have more than a passing interest in things retail.

So I've been keeping an eye on the m-retail or m-commerce world and was very interested to see that UK grocery retailer, Tesco has joined the world of m-retail after successful trials of ordering flowers via mobile for Valentine's Day and Mother's Day.

As an aside, Tesco also claims that it's wap portal is a great success attracting over 300,000 customers in December last year. And not only that, but that's it's customers are hungry for ads.

"Banner advertising served up on the portal delivered a click-through rate to tailored WAP campaign sites of between three and seven per cent, said Tesco. Brands advertising on the portal included Bee Movie, ITV, Nivea and Teletext.

Tesco said the user-base of the portal has a strong segment of female household budget owners with an average age of 36 - a demographic it said is particularly valuable for fast-moving consumer goods such as toiletries and cleaning products.
According to a survey commissioned by Tesco, more than half (60 per cent) of portal users are female and the same percentage said they visit the portal at least once a month, while 69 per cent claimed they would click on a relevant advert."

So this all bodes well for entering the world of m-commerce. So I thought I'd check it out.

Alas for me, going to from my mobile takes me to the main Tesco website with no adaption for the mobile screen whatsoever - large file sizes (well comparatively large when dealing with mobile), navigation required up/down and left/right so you can't actually see anything properly.

It occurred to me that they'd probably done a mobile specific site so I also tried and and neither of those worked.

So it looks like I can't do a review of the service for you.

I then thought, well maybe it's for Tesco Mobile customers only (Tesco Mobile being the pay as you go MVNO with O2), especially since their wap portal has been such a success.

And then I saw how much data charges were on Tesco Mobile... £4 per megabyte. Yes, that's right, a whopping £4 a megabyte. And there's no mention of whether or not access to the Tesco Mobile Portal is free of charge or not. In fact, there's no mention at all of any Tesco Mobile Portal or any Tesco mobile shopping service.

There's a free Tesco sim offer on at the moment, I may give it a go although I really don't fancy spending £4 a megabyte to check out their mobile portal and m-commerce offerings.

On the commercial side of the equation, I know that 02 is heavily pushing mobile retail services and is touting Tesco as it's major success story and case study (there's even a video I've seen about it). But if you're going to make your shop invisible and then charge for entry, isn't that just a bit daft?

Hmm. What's going on?

If anyone can shed any light on what's going on with Tesco m-retail and Tesco's wap portal and relevant data charges, please let me know either via the blog or via email.

And on a parting note, I think this quote (via from Ashley Schofield, head of customer management at Tesco Mobile, is somewhat ironic:
"Our customers are showing a real appetite for more products and services
through the mobile internet. Delivering more great experiences and value through
our portal is a priority for this year."

Ashley, I'm not sure how you can deliver more great experiences and more value through the portal when you're charging £4 a megabyte.