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Brief Published: 17 May 2017

Retail Business Tech Expo 2017: Monetising Moments


The growing importance of contextually relevant ‘moments’ – trading on of-the-moment desire and the expectation of instant satisfaction, but also the minor panic of being always-on – was a key theme at this year’s Retail Business Technology Expo. See also Contextual Commerce.

  • Dinner App Capitalises on Mealtime Panic: UK supermarket Waitrose is testing a recipe inspiration service targeting shoppers in a rush – feeding on minor panic. Matt Clifton, head of customer experience at Waitrose, said: "Around 40% of us don't know what we're going to eat tonight by 4pm." The app suggests recipes, but also tells consumers which ingredients they probably already have at home based on past purchasing data.
  • Tesco x Google Home Captures Instant Desire: British supermarket Tesco has developed a service for the Google Home connected speaker device (Google’s answer to Amazon Echo). It enables shoppers to tell their connected speaker to add products to their online shopping basket, removing the need to open their smartphone app or turn on their computer to do so. For more on seamless and effortless searching, see Harness the Hunt: Retail’s New Search Strategies.

    Tesco is also experimenting with other areas of the connected home and voice-activated shopping. Paul Wilkinson, head of technology research at its innovation team Tesco Labs, revealed it’s working on a barcode scanner fridge magnet for instant reordering. However, Amazon Dash-style buttons didn’t work so well – in a trial of similar buttons, Tesco found few consumers used them after the first week, with most seeming to forget they were there. See also Tesco’s New Digital Strategies.
Tesco Google Home
  • Smartphones for Sales Assistants: UK department store John Lewis has given 400 smartphones to its Cambridge store staff. The handsets are loaded with an app that allows them to provide product information, check stock availability and place orders while roaming around the shop floor, providing consumers with a far speedier and less disjointed service. Sean O’Connor, head of online product at John Lewis, said: “It’s about levelling the playing field between sales assistants and customers.”
  • In-Store Geo-Location Web Tool for Self-Serve: British DIY retailer B&Q hopes to take pressure off store staff by introducing geo-location services to its consumer-facing mobile site. With the most common question asked in-store being ‘Where can I find this product?’, the web-browser-based tool will deploy in-store maps to both speed up the process for shoppers, and free up staff for more important jobs. Emphasising ease of use, Kirsten Groves, head of digital experience at B&Q, said: “You don’t need an app or kiosks. With a combination of great wi-fi and context-aware features, you can go quite a long way to helping that customer self-serve.” 

See also Retail: Workforce Tech Innovations 2017Shoptalk 2017: Fast Tech for Rapid Retail and Invisible Marketing.