Motorola Tesco Supermarkets

'If you get me there, make it worth my while' - Motorola’s head of retail on the challenge of in-store engagement


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

June 12, 2014 | 4 min read

The retail industry is facing many issues at the moment, but how it is measured is one that Motorola’s head of retail, Mark Thomson, believes the industry needs to address most urgently.

“We currently measure retail on sales per square meter, but, if I’m a retailer why do I care if you buy a product in-store or on my website?” he told The Drum. “I shouldn’t but most do at the moment because they feel more possessive or control over you in the store. And because stores are an expensive part of real estate that they want to justify having.”

In his view, enlightened retailers will be compelled to think of the store as simply another part –perhaps not even the most important one – of the shopping process.

“They shouldn’t care if I buy in-store. [The store] should be part of the shopping experience where consumers can physically experience the products and ask advice, rather than the place I have to go to buy a product.”

A recent Kantar Worldpanel report suggested that Tesco could be losing as many as one million customer visits a week, the equivalent to £25m in sales, a figure it disputes. However, the retail giant is undoubtedly struggling as it posted 3.1 per cent decline in sales in the 12 weeks to 25 May.

So, when retailers manage to get customers in store they must offer more than they currently do. Discussing how supermarkets might approach this, where a physical presence remains intrinsically important to the business, Thomson says they need to create a sense of theatre.

Tesco is neither "budget" [like Aldi or Lidl] nor "luxury" like Waitrose, and it could learn from the latter said Thomson when it comes to creating an experience for the consumers.

"In some Waitrose stores there is now a section where you can try different wines with selected foods, or they may even offer a coffee to loyalty card holders as they make their way round with their shopping," he said,

Motorola believes a more immediate way to inject a personalised experience in-store is through Beacon technology and, on the back of research that found 85 per cent of people have used an app in-store, it launched a location-based tool that engages shoppers in supermarket aisles.

When customers have downloaded the app and opted in, offers and personal assistance are pushed out via a Bluetooth-triggered app and immediate access in-store Wi-Fi then locates products in store, gives reviews, compares prices or simply gives more information. Discounts and coupons can also be pushed out and the customer can be guided through the store to find the products highlighted.

Thomson explained that the challenge remains in getting retailers to consider and experiment with such propositions, but with an increasing number of tech-led roles making it to boardroom level it is getting easier.

He continued: “When we first started seeing people given the term multi-channel director you saw them go in and in many cases a year later they had already moved on because they hadn’t necessarily been given the level of seniority in the business that is needed to break down some of the silos of marketing and store operations.

“Now what we’re seeing is these roles starting to step up and get the true backing of the CEO and being driven as part of the organisational strategy rather than sitting in the e-commerce team.”

Many retailers have recognised this, including Tesco who recently moved former CMO Matt Atkinson to the role of chief creative officer with CEO Philip Clarke explaining that he would "develop its approach to innovation".

Motorola Tesco Supermarkets

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