Tesco Launches Augmented Reality Test

Discussion
Nov 21, 2011
Tom Ryan

Tesco last week began a trial of augmented reality technology that allows shoppers to see 3D projections of products before they buy them, both in stores and online.

Large computer screens with embedded cameras have been set up in seven Tesco stores in the U.K. Shoppers scan QR codes taken from shelves or from a Tesco Direct catalog to display a 3D image and product information on screen. For instance, customers can spin the virtual TV around to see the connector points on the back and get an idea of the size of the television. The AR also lets consumers play virtually with onscreen LEGO sets. Customers can choose to buy the product in-store or, if it is out of stock, order it to be delivered to their homes via Tesco Direct.

Consumers can also tap the technology on a mobile device or on a desktop computer that contains a two-way camera after installing a browser plugin.

At the store level, the technology, powered by augmented reality firm Kishino, provides the ability to showcase more products than possible with limited shelf space. Online, Tesco is hoping augmented reality will reduce the number of returns since people can get an idea of the dimensions of products before ordering.

“We know our customers would prefer to see every product in a range for themselves before making a purchase,” Tesco said in a statement. “However it is not often not practically possible to display, for example, the more than 180 televisions that sell in a store. Through AR we are able to offer realistic and life size representations of what that product will look like within their homes or their local store.”

Only 40 products from the electronics and entertainment sections are currently supported in the trial, but Tesco says it is planning to make “a vast number” compatible with the system. The trial runs until the end of the year.

Mashable noted that Starbucks launched a holiday program this month that uses an iOS-based app to make its red holiday coffee cups project images of animated characters.

Discussion Questions: What do you see as the opportunity around augmented reality technology? Is there a bigger opportunity for the technology in stores or online?

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10 Comments on "Tesco Launches Augmented Reality Test"


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Max Goldberg
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Most uses of AR at this time are gimmicks. They mean well, but they don’t add a lot to the consumer’s shopping experience. AR can be so much more. Used beyond gimmicks, it can help a consumer shop by saving time and can provide additional information that would normally require effort from the consumer to ascertain. Look for AR to mature and grow in the coming years.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

I think we’ve only just begun to see the usage of Augmented Reality. We’re talking about small potatoes here (no pun intended). Let’s toss these answers in a time capsule and open them in 5 years. I’ll bet we’ll chuckle at our responses.

Doug Stephens
Guest
Doug Stephens
9 years 5 months ago

It’s pretty simple stuff really. A/R simply allows shoppers to visualize items they might not otherwise be able to. Being able to tell if the sofa will fit in the living room, for example, or if the TV will be too large for the wall at home or how exactly something is assembled, are extremely helpful in terms of aiding the decision making process.

I’m really impressed with Tesco’s leadership here but also in their sensible application of this and other technologies. They are solving real customer problems, not merely adding layers of technology for technology’s sake.

Roger Saunders
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Technologies, like Augmented Reality, will help a slice of the consumer marketplace in capturing a better understanding of how and where they can use products. One of the skills that humans don’t tap into often enough are “Conceptual.” Tapping into applications that help people visualize or tactically use products makes it easier to pull the trigger, and make a purchase.

Tesco’s taking the right step to experience both In-Store and Online.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
9 years 5 months ago
For some shoppers, Tesco’s AR test will be pure entertainment. For others it will be a helpful shopping tool. In either case, I like it. AR is a nice way to engage today’s consumers whether for fun, practicality, or fun practicality. As for whether AR has bigger potential online or in-store, I’m leaning toward online for now. That will likely morph over time, gradually becoming more 50/50 as more consumers become aware of AR and more brands begin implementing AR solutions. But at present, AR is still relatively new and untested among many mainstream shoppers. And while in-store shoppers may not have all available products at hand, they do have some physical products to evaluate and take home today to satisfy their desire for immediate gratification. By comparison, e-shoppers are using tech to shop, are more likely to browse (comparison shop) and are likely seeking out video (and AR) to help evaluate potential product purchases. AR is still so new to shopping that it can feel a bit gimmicky. But I think that’s necessary stage… Read more »
Kai Clarke
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

This is a solution looking for a problem. These retailers need to spend these monies on lowering the cost of their products to their consumers…this will drive revenues and profits, not 3D (which is an immature technology) pictures to their customers.

Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
9 years 5 months ago

This is a first step to draw consumers into product experience — shoppers like to pick up products and examine them more closely.

AR can help online shoppers understand the item, and will help in-store by giving a better “picture” of the item in limited space. Yes, it may be the early days, but AR can reduce the “fear factor” when the physical product isn’t available, guide the shopper through product features, and can engage shoppers in new way.

Dan Berthiaume
Guest
Dan Berthiaume
9 years 5 months ago

AR technology will likely transform life as we know it in the next 10 years. I would expect lifelike 3-D product images to become routine both online and as part of in-store packaging. It’s hard to say whether the bigger opportunity is in stores or online, especially since mobile technology is blurring the distinction between the “real” and virtual worlds. We are definitely headed for a real world straight out of a science fiction novel, retailers and manufacturers need to prepare.

Matthew Keylock
Guest
Matthew Keylock
9 years 5 months ago

Too often the biggest retailer in a market becomes slow and complacent. It’s great to see Tesco taking a leadership position here with a technology that has the potential to add value to the customer experience to create another reason for them to choose Tesco first.

Christopher P. Ramey
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Augmented reality is going to change online shopping substantially; particularly for big ticket products. In stores, it will remain part of the experience.

For good examples, iPhone users can download apps from Zenith and Girard-Perregaux watches. Simply choose the watch of your desire, place it on your wrist and take the picture. You can then “size” it to make sure it fits properly.

The opportunity for augmented reality is substantial in the home furnishings industry. Customers can choose products (draperies, rugs, lamps, tables, etc) online and place them in their home.

Augmented reality will change the way products are sold online. It is the technology that allows consumers to ‘try on’ products before buying them.

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