Much like the convenience sector itself, Tesco’s frictionless shopping concept, GetGo, is evolving. Stephen Wynne-Jones met Kevin Tindall, managing director, Tesco Convenience. This article first appeared in ESM January/February 2023.
Last November, Tesco announced the expansion of its latest store format, GetGo, a ‘frictionless shopping’ concept that the UK market leader first introduced to its High Holborn store in London in late 2021.
Unlike that initial roll-out, the latest iteration of GetGo – which has since been rolled out to Chiswell Street and Fulham Reach, both in London, and will soon be introduced to Aston University, in Birmingham – offers a ‘hybrid’ solution, whereby shoppers can either shop and pay without scanning a product or using a checkout, or pay for their items in the traditional way.
As Kevin Tindall, managing director, Tesco Convenience, tells ESM, the UK market leader sees huge potential in the GetGo formula, although the learning process is still ongoing.
“I think it would be incredibly arrogant of me to say that we’ve found the right solution after what has been a few weeks of the hybrid stores being open,” Tindall explains, “but we think we’re definitely trending in the right direction.”
Developing The Concept
The origins of GetGo rest in a cashless-store concept that Tesco opened at the Heart Building, at its Welwyn Garden City headquarters, back in 2018.
“That gave us an opportunity to test out that technology and innovate because it’s easier to engage with our colleagues on campus – they can be a little more forgiving!” says Tindall.
That, in turn, led to Tesco developing a partnership with Tel Aviv-based start-up Trigo – a company whose mission is to ‘accelerate the digitisation of store spaces’, according to its website – which, in turn, led to the then recently opened High Holborn outlet being the first public testing ground for the GetGo concept.
“High Holborn was a really high-volume, on-the-move, walk-in traffic store – plus it was the only cashless store outside of our Heart campus,” says Tindall, “so we felt that because customers had got really comfortable with the concept, the transition from cashless to frictionless was a relatively easy step to make.”
While the store garnered plenty of publicity, Tesco held back from unveiling a follow-up, taking time to explore the positives and negatives of the new venture.
“To be able to get into the store, and to use the express checkout, customers had to have the Tesco app, and while some people loved that, others loved it a little bit less,” Tindall explains. “That’s the part that we wrestled with – how to develop a frictionless store that offered accessibility to everyone. Yes, the Tesco app is being used by 20 million households across the UK, but not everyone wants to use it, and that’s part of the learning journey for us.”
Adopting A New Approach
With the new hybrid outlets now up and running, Tesco is continuing its mission to ‘test and learn’ from the GetGo concept, with further evolutions on the cards.
“For example, for non-Tesco app users, exiting the store currently involves scanning the QR code from the bottom of their receipt,” says Tindall, “but, at the same time, we’ve spent many years trying to move people away from using receipts for environmental reasons, so we’re still on a journey.
“Overall, we want to make it more seamless, less clunky, with fewer friction points for customers – and with any new technology, these things take time – but, on the whole, we’re pretty pleased with how customers have responded.”
Looking ahead to the coming year, Tindall believes that GetGo will remain in “learning mode” for some time to come, adding that the technology “is not going to be in hundreds of stores” any time soon.
“We spent a year getting our proposition right and making adjustments, and we think it’s going to be between four or five months between the first of the new stores opening in Chiswell Street and Birmingham going live,” he says. “I think what we then do – as any sensible business would – is sit down and ask questions. How is it working? How does it feel for us, and, most importantly, how are our customers engaging with it?”
Read the full-length feature in ESM's January/February 2023 edition.