/ Technology

Want a ‘sat nav’ app to get round Tesco? Um, no thanks

Supermarket aisle blurred

I can’t quite work out whether the news that Tesco’s trialling a ‘sat nav’ app is a good or bad thing. For me, it’s just another bit of tech I can safely relegate to the ‘completely ignore’ space of my mind. But for others…

…well, let’s explain how the thing works first. Once you’ve downloaded Tesco’s app to your Android smartphone, you’ll be able to enter your shopping list which the app will use to create a map of where the products are in the store. Then, it will work out the shortest possible route between you and those products.

Tesco said in its blog post that it won’t roll this out to stores up and down the country until it has had a clear indication that it’s something customers want. Well, take it from me, men will love it.

Blokes and supermarkets

Now, I know this might be a massive generalisation and maybe I need to get out more, but I’ve yet to meet a man who doesn’t think grocery shopping is a torture that has to be endured. For them, successful shopping means getting in and out as quickly as possible.

Never mind that they’ve forgotten half the items on the list – the fact that they step inside a supermarket and came back with something at all is testament their hunter gatherer traits.

Whether Tesco knows it or not – and I suspect they do – this sat nav gizmo will be manna from heaven for most men.

Supermarket shopping nightmare

If this sat nav app does eventually get rolled out to Tesco’s up and down the country, expect two things. Firstly, other supermarkets will soon follow. And secondly, supermarkets will no longer be a safe place to shop.

Just imagine the scenario a year down the line – all the men you know sneakily meeting up with their mates and seeing who can get their weekly shop done in the fastest possible time using this new toy. It’s going to be an absolute nightmare.

Once this thing takes off, I’m going to do all my shopping online. That way, at least I’ll be safe from speeding shopping trolleys, steered by men (and children) who’ve forgotten they’re in a supermarket, not a racetrack.


Another tool for the supermarket’s to use to monitor what we buy and when, giving them information about our shopping habits so they can collate the info and put up prices to take money from our pockets.

knowledge is power – for the supermarket this is especially so.
The less they know about us the better, always shop local, if you really must use a supermarket, then always pay in cash.

juwlz says:
27 May 2011

Electronic shopping lists are nothing new. I’ve been using them in one form or another, manually sorted (by me) into aisle order for a particular store, ever since I had a Psion 5 running RMRShop (http://www.rmrsoft.com/epoc/shop.htm) 11 or 12 years ago. As an Android Geek and regular Tesco shopper, currently using OurGroceries (http://www.ourgroceries.com/overview), I’ll be the first to try it as soon as I can, especially if it supports shared shopping lists. In fact, I’m just surprised that nobody else has through of it until now. Shame I don’t live near ***** :-(.

Build in proper scan-as-you-go (Waitrose style) instead of the stupid long-winded self-service checkouts that Tesco have plumped for, add NFC for payment, and I’ll be a very happy girl.

SatNav is a bit of a misnomer though. As far as I know, there are no Satellites involved ;-).

Satellites are on aisle 13. 2 for the price of 3.

Bix says:
27 May 2011

It’s hardly a new idea, and it obviously didn’t catch on the first time around. I encountered shopping trolleys that guided you to what you wanted to buy and told you about the special offers you passed on the way in Atlanta, Georgia, more than 20 years ago. It was rather useful for strangers in a large supermarket, though there were some language difficulties (asking for biscuits led us to some scone-like patties intended to be eaten with gravy for breakfast). It’s hard to imagine that people would use it regularly in their usual supermarket – unless of course they do their grocery shopping at Marks & Spencer, in which case it’s a must. In fact I think I’ll write and ask them to introduce it immediately so that I can stop spending half my mornings looking for something they’ve moved AGAIN.

I can’t see that this is in the interest of supermarkets. If people know where to go they will probably buy exactly what they want, pay and leave. However, if they have to wander around looking for what they want they are likely see other products of interest and buy these as well, especially products on offer.

James Harrison says:
31 May 2011

Yes, we know why the supermarkets move their stock around, but we all detest it thoroughly. We get used to the layouts and can indeed do a record-breaking short sharp shop, but they move it around, depending upon which supplier they have nailed to the floor on price and which products they must supply and tuck away. I’m surprised that chocolate isn’t next to tampons and toilet roll next to the bargain meal section. We don’t like it….it’s not clever Mr/Mrs. middle-management…We don’t care whether you get a certificate in constructive shelf-stacking and a badge to sew onto your support workers speedo’s….stop it! We don’t need maps and apps, just common sense and real value for money.

This could be useful for someone with arthritis who needs to avoid walking more than necessary.

I could be interested because my local Tesco sometimes puts things in strange places, For example dishcloths in the aisle labelled dog food and pet care, and salt in the aisle labelled fresh lamb and pork. I don’t have a smartphone so I will continue to ask staff for the time being.

Marks and Spencer in Broad Street Reading are forever re-arranging the layout of the food.
They lost my custom for that reason a loooooong time ago.

Alistair – exactly. There is no need for anything other than a trolley, good sign-age and a bit of time. Once you’ve learned the supermarket layout that should be all you need. But then you know the bits you can ignore and that doesn’t do. The manager wants you to be forced to find stuff that you neither need nor want, so they change it all round once every three or four weeks. Silly billies!

Tesco and sat nav ! When sat nav does not work then it will take everyone to check out without any buying product ! We all have experienced that sometime sat nav goes wrong. We need technology that finds out cheaper,affordable and money saving product. We need technology like when you put any product in your trolley, it automatically calculates and adds in your bill and just pay out at the check out without queuing .

Shire of Rose – Your excellent suggestions might be implemented in Tesco Utopia, but probably not in Tesco, Tesco Extra or Tesco Express.

Tesco still can’t manage to provide comparable price price labels (e.g. some toilet rolls shown as price per sheet and others price per roll). You and me are condemned to use self-service checkouts and hear those familiar words: Unexpected item in the bagging area.

Sophie Gilbert says:
31 May 2011

Am I in the Twilight Zone?

strange thing this, “Sat” does insinuate that you are using satellites, which of course you are not.

I would personally just let the missus do the shopping. Where we currently live, I have to take her coz she’s too scared to drive, we are moving soon so that she can go shopping on her own and I can be left to Call of Duty!! 🙂

If I absolutely HAVE to go, the last thing I want is some geeks following their phones around the store bumping into people and not watching what they’re doing (like all smart phone users). This is of course as long as you can get a data signal in the first place….

More zombified consumerism,

This is a clear indication from Tesco’s that they have no idea how to layout their goods. If you need a guide to take you through the picking process then you know there is something wrong with the organisation of the items being picked. But maybe I’m a bad example, I use the much “greener” option of buying via Ocado for almost everything and a quick whip ’round my local Co-op for what I’ve missed.

J.Foster says:
31 May 2011

Tesco (and other supermarkets) could save time and money if thet put a few terminals in stores with a simple product locator programme. How often are employees dragged away from jobs to show customers where products are to be found. This app sounds like a sledge hammer to crack a nut,

Exactly what I was going to say – add a locator.
Mind you, the ‘staff shoppers’ with their programmed list and aisle finder often say its out of date with all the moves.

TESCO – it doesn’t help when you move stuff around and leave the signs unchanged (Vegetarian over pork sausages for 2 years now – Aylesbury #1)

If I could find my shopping – then I might browse, but I am so annoyed at the delays in finding things, I do not.
This is counter-productive to the Tesco model of forcing impulse shopping my moving stock around.

Men hate it with a vengeance, trust me – we all talk about it you know in store.

I don’t enjoy shopping, but if this works then not only will it shorten the time I spend in-store, it could also turn shopping into a game which, as Arlene suggested, certain people would enjoy. I think this would make shopping more tolerable for me.

Will trolleys have phone holders? I can see lots of trolley accidents occurring with this idea! 😉

Also, would it not take you longer overall, as you have to enter the items into your phone in the first place?

I do enjoy shopping! (maybe because I don’t go to the supermarket all that often, and shop at the local corner shop and farmers’ market nearly as often).

I say bring it on – I have countless not been able to find Marmite, and would love to look on my phone to see exactly where it is. I don’t much care about doing it in the fastest possible time… I’m happy to stroll around and see what I can find.

Still, I don’t see how they could logistically do this? Don’t they move the stock around all the time to keep it fresh for the eyes of consumers? Then again, the pockets of Tesco are growing, so I’m sure they’ll be able to pay people to update the software for every store they have in the country every few weeks (what a task).

Chris P says:
2 June 2011

I would welcome a supermarket sat-nav. Although I am male, I don’t want this because I want to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible. Sometimes, especially in a store that I am not familiar with, there is one item which I can’t trace, and it takes ages to find it. A navigation aid would help with this.

Richard says:
22 September 2014

Typical sexist remark. If I mention the possibility of a woman doing something silly because she has blonde hair. I am sent to Coventry for a week.
This article sterotypes men without the concern for their feelings.
I have been shopping for my family including my able bodied wife for over 20 years and rarely forget anything. My hunter Gather skills are extremely intensified when within a closed location containing

Hi Richard, thanks for your comment. I’m sorry you found the piece sexist. Sometimes our authors write provocatively in order to attract a response.