Thursday, 14 April 2011

Tesco - admired but not loved

The Arcadia seminar on Tuesday was delivered by Nick Lansley, Head of Research and Development at Tesco and entitles 'Hunters, Gatherers and Groundhogs:'s Mobile Journey'.  I had no idea what to expect from this (and indeed how it related to libraries) but what transpired was a very enjoyable hour and an urge to do my shopping.

What became apparent to the R&D team was that in order to reach customers they had to appeal to all levels of technologically literate people.  It is not a case of 'one size fits all' and it was with this attitude that Nick approached  The team even installed cameras in 30 family homes in order to gauge how families go about making their orders online.  It was from this that the categories of hunters, gatherers and groundhogs were born:

  • Hunters - shoppers interested in the ingredients and like to shop at farm shops and markets.  They do not go shopping with certain meals in mind but are concerned with the constituent parts.
  • Gatherers - these shoppers think about the meals they will need but rely on the shop to guide them to purchase with what is on special offer etc.
  • Groundhogs - these shoppers rarely have a plan and have little time and will use 'repreat my last order' button on the website.
Hunter, Gatherer and Groundhog -ish

The ethnographic research came up with these three very different methods of shopping and the team had to come up with ways of supporting each of these at all stages of the shopping experience (not just the buying and paying).  This sort of approach is what is required in libraries.  Rarely will a library be serving people with identical needs.  It is up to us to discover the requirements of those that use our libraries and tailor our services and approaches in order to benefit the maximum number of patrons.

A particular highlight of the talk for me was seeing the February Tesco advert, which shows the new barcode scanning facility on smart phones, which allows you to scan any product barcode and it automatically puts it in your online basket.  A very cool and somewhat dangerous gadget! 

Nick pointed out that grocery shopping was something that people did not get excited about since you order lots of things, you do it frequently and it is perceived as a long and laborious task.  Hence he wanted to make it as exciting and straightforward as possible so that his customers would enjoy their shopping experience and begin to see it as a collaborative effort with inspiration gained from friends, family, TV and recipes.  Again this is similar to libraries where patrons come in wanting information which they require.  Often they are not excited about the daunting task in front of them but once we show them how accessible their information is and how they can use referencing tools, databases and catalogues, their library experience suddenly brightens!

The overarching theme of the talk was 'understand your customer'.  What Nick has noticed is that quite often the techy stuff will only benefit the tech-savvy few and leave the majority in the dark.  He is aiming to provide the services that are needed whether that means providing barcoding apps for the IPhone or a landline service for recording your shopping list.  Libraries too need to consider what patrons need and are happy to use - sometimes I feel that librarians are moving too fast for students and that the benefit is not felt by them since they are too busy getting to grips with their work to spend time fully appreciating the latest technologies.  Here it's not so much 'Know Thyself' as 'Know Thy Customer'.

N.B. In case you are interested, I am a Gatherer with the odd tendency to be a Hunter.

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