back to article Tesco's new fondleslab winks at Apple's stealthy NFC assassin iBeacon

Tesco jumped on the tablet bandwagon yesterday with the launch of Hudl, another Android tablet. Pronounced "huddle", the decently specced fondleslab costs just £60 if you pay in Clubcard points, or £119 in coins of the realm. And like Amazon's Fire slabs drew in punters, the touchscreen Hudl is being flung out at low cost in the …

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Blurbflies and Toner Wars are on their way

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WTF?

Maybe I'm missing something here...

This is how the premise sounds to me. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

So your in a store shopping. You find something you want, you pick it up, you look on an app on your phone, go I'll buy that now thanks, bang you pay your dosh via the phone, and take your goodie and walk out of the store. URGHH! You try walking out of the store with that bit of kit you just purchased WITHOUT going to the checkout and security hit you with the tazers for being a dirty little thief.

How does the shop assistant know you paid for it? you could have just been playing with your phone at the time. And what happens when the app crashes, and you lose the docket for the purchase? I dont think the store will take your word that you did pay for it.

So many problems with this idea. So many ways I see failure!

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Watch out for the drummers...

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Go

Re: Maybe I'm missing something here...

Shop assistant?

If this is implemented properly (and, of course, there is absolutely no reason to assume it will be), then the payment will be registered centrally, and the security systems on the door will know that the item you are carrying has, or has not, been paid for. Automated machine-gun nests above the door can then take over from there.

GJC

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Maybe I'm missing something here...

Works pretty well at an Apple Store - try it sometime ;)

The device shows a receipt and you show the receipt on your way out - or just ask for a bag - simple and far quicker than queueing up to pay. Staff can also spend time helping customers rather than just processing payments - it's a win win.

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Re: Maybe I'm missing something here...

The hypothetical plus of the Apple Store model is that every member of staff in the shop can handle sales - so you just put everyone on the shop floor and have them wandering around "helping" customers and processing sales, thereby maximising the potential value of every square foot of floorspace. In my experience, it also means that if you, as a customer, want a proper invoice/itemised receipt for your purchase, you get to dick around far longer than normal while the shocked staff try to figure out how to provide something as antiquated as an actual paper invoice....

Long story short - I don't think that the Apple Store model is will be adopted in full by Tesco. I would guess this functionality will be used as an eventually-exclusive mechanism for offering discount codes provided by an on-device app that generates a barcode/QR code that you then scan at the till when paying. So you'd probably still need at least an automated checkout point.

(Sidenote on why the Apple store model can be worked up the collective dirtbox of everyone at Apple who thinks they're great - the free-range salesdroid model is fine for actual sales, but the worst heap of shit I've ever seen for hardware support/warranty stuff, since the shop enforces a dual stream queuing system - one for appointment holders, one for non-appointment holders - and the enforced design of minimalist free-roaming bollocks means that at busy times you end up with an astounding amount of people waiting around for ages in badly-designed "open" areas).

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Re: Maybe I'm missing something here...

Don't many items in a shop have these strips that have to be deactivated at the till? A little more tech and the shop having seen that item purchased, simply deactivate it's beacon.

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Re: Maybe I'm missing something here...

So, instead of queuing up to have my basket or trolley full of items scanned (which can if I prefer be done without any human interaction, using the now commonplace self-service checkouts), I now have to queue up for someone to check that the items in my basket or trolley now match up with my receipt?

This might work for shops where you buy a single item (though even there, I don't see how it's quicker than the self-service checkouts), but doesn't scale for shops where you might want to buy more than one item.

"Staff can also spend time helping customers rather than just processing payments"

A single person can already keep watch over several self-service checkouts, freeing staff up for helping customers. A single person can't check receipts of more than one customer at once.

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Re: Maybe I'm missing something here... Ah yes

You are talking about serialized product.

99% of the things we buy are not...

I wonder how many Apples(sorry for the pun) I could take out of a grocery store

with a single docket.

there is no clear direct association for docket to item.

Its like the old days of honesty boxes... farmers I knew said about 1 in 5 "purchases" were paid

in full. Although a great idea you just don't see them any more.

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Re: Maybe I'm missing something here...

"Works pretty well at an Apple Store - try it sometime ;)"

I'm sure it does, but how often do you get 100's of customers per hour walking out of the Apple Store with trollies laden with 50-100 separate items? (riots and looting excepted!)

Horses for courses, and I don't see this particular horse running well at Tescos.

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@johnnymotel 16:17

Items don't have Beacons on them, Beacons are too expensive for that. Maybe on high end items, but they'd still want to remove the Beacon for re-use rather than letting you take it home.

NFC tags are cheap so theoretically if each item had an NFC tag you could do this, but unfortunately NFC's range is too short, and even NFC tags are too expensive to attach to cheap items that are selling for a dollar or two.

Those magnetic strips are cheapest of all (but still too expensive to put on stuff like candy bars) but they can't be remotely addressed and deactivated, so someone would need to do each one.

The Apple Store model works in an Apple Store because few customers walk out with a big bag of stuff, and they can afford to have a person by the door who can check the bag of the occasional big spender walking out with 20 iPods or whatever. Won't work in a department store, definitely won't work in a grocery store.

Beacons offer some new capabilities that other solutions don't (providing directions inside a store to find things without relying on the guesswork of store employees - assuming you can find them when you need them) However, they don't solve the paying for your stuff problem any better (or worse) than NFC, and neither offers enough of an advantage over swiping your card through a reader to make people want to change the way they pay, other than to say "hey look what my cool Samsung / Apple phone can do, I can pay for stuff without swiping my card!"

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Adverts?

" These gizmos are called beacons and the idea is that they beam data - anything from vouchers to details about the location -"

So it will be used almost exclusively for beaming spam and other advertising at people then? So nobody will ever turn it on?

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Re: Adverts?

....So it will be used almost exclusively for beaming spam and other advertising at people then? So nobody will ever turn it on?....

unless it is set up so that you cannot turn it off.

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Pirate

Re: Adverts?

No, no, no. You've got it wrong! It will be ON by DEFAULT and you'll have to ROOT your device to disable it!

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Re: Adverts?

That's how I read it as well. It'll be used to spam you with adverts while you're already in the shop spending money. How is this going to work exactly? Oh, you have to have an app for it as well? I can't see this taking off very well at all for some reason.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Adverts?

Au contraire - if they were giving discounts / coupons as you go around the store or extended information etc. I can imagine people using it.

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Sounds ok

I shop in Tesco all the time as it is 2 minutes up the road from me. If they are beaming me discounts and vouchers that I might not be aware of when I walk in the shop, then I am happy, why wouldn't I be?. As long as they stop as soon as I walk out again.....

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"perhaps even with a money-off voucher to seal the deal"

Why? They know you're already interested in it. I wouldn't put it past the bastards to sneak in a 5% or 10% price increase just for you.

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Holmes

@ Gene Cash - Re: "perhaps even with a money-off voucher to seal the deal"

Not an increase.

Tesco knows more about you (if you use their clubcard) than any governmental agency. Effective data mining assumed, they will know if you have a new girlfriend, that and when you got married, if she's pregnant and when the baby will be born. The latter two most likely before you yourself know about it. They will also know if you've got another lady going on the side . . .

Sales psychology: Increasing the price if the punter is interested is not a good way.

People, if they're not completely zomboid, will notice. A much better strategy would be "upselling". When the customer lingers in front of a "value" item, slip him a coupon that narrows the price gap between this and a premium item to an extend that the customer rather switches to the more expensive item.

It usually also works nicely the other way around, similar to the "bait-and-switch" method of questionable legality. Get the customer into the store with a lossy "big brand" offer, and then turn him towards an item that you actually want to sell, using a (in this hudl-beacon-case automated) tailored FAB (feature, advantage, benefit) comparison of the two where the original bait-offer comes out less shining.

What Tesco also might want to use is the "suggestions and what other people bought" that are so commonplace on web stores. This is something you can't do in a store without completely cluttering the display. Example: Joe has already some pasta and canned tomatoes in his trolley. If he goes past the dairy section the hudl will remind him of grated Parmesan cheese. If he doesn't go past there (the way is trackable), it'll throw that in before he reaches the tills. And olives.

If this is well implemented, it could provide the customer with a personal hard-selling salesman for the whole time he's in the store.

Just imagine how different it would be if you ask someone filling the juice shelf where the lemon juice is. Your normal response is either "Not here, aisle 16.", or if you're lucky "Oh, that's not here, I'll show you, if you like to come with me, sir?"

Now, if that would be a real salesman it would probably be more like "Lemon juice, just over here, please. Oh, I see you have flour and eggs already, it'll be pancakes today, will it? Right here now, there's your lemon juice, we have this really nice one, not made from concentrate, just as good as freshly pressed and not much more expensive, and still cheaper than buying lemons, isn't it? And you must just try this Canadian maple syrup, it's ab-so-lu-tely lovely on pancakes, only to be matched by Nutella. You have tried Nutella on pancakes. No? Oh, you must. What a taste explosion! Can I help you with some other ingredients? Some contrast for tomorrow, maybe?"

Something that, at the moment, is impossible unless the shelf-fillers are expected to actually sell something and not fill shelves. Which would require an incentive for them and, of course, extra staff to fill the shelves. Too expensive.

Hudl is cheaper.

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Re: "perhaps even with a money-off voucher to seal the deal"

Oh dear.. You really really underestimate just how sneaky they can be.

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Lots of companies seem to think this sort of thing is a good idea

For example, I've seen this recently pushed out: http://www.shopone.mobi/ (it's a website out there on the internet far as I know; so it can't be a sekrit, can it?) which describes other ideas in the same area.

I'm not pimping it, just offering another perspective and more info for folks... I too remain unconvinced that people will ever use the app in question, but AIUI the main idea is that it replaces your loyalty card and the paper vouchers you get with it. And indeed it may deliver extra vouchers/offers dynamically as you loiter, depending on where you loiter.

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> Certainly, not having to queue is nice, but is swiping a card actually so very hard in the first place?

This is the main reason why I'm not that interested in the Pay-By-Bonk technologies anyway.

We waited long enough for Credit Cards with chips and pins, and now the companies seem so keen to go head first into a system which is hardly any better that the old chipless cards.

Granted, there are limits on the amounts that you can spend by bonking, but really, is typing a PIN really that big a deal?

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I am a little sceptical about whether this will be useful, but I can see how it stands a better chance with Tesco than with Apple Stores.

You can see how it might look better with Apple's fingerprint sensor.

I am not sure I would want to use such systems, but Tesco has the retail footprint to set the standards.

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