/ Shopping, Technology

Will Tesco’s barcode iPhone app take off?

Barcode being scanned

The new Groceries iPhone app from Tesco means you can scan items wherever you are and add them to your online shop. Genius way to save time or geeky gimmick? You decide…

Picture this – you’re at a friend’s house eating some tasty snacks that you can’t wait to buy yourself.

Just scan the packet with your iPhone and – poof – it’s added to your online order like magic.

Or you’re at home scraping the last of the Marmite out of the jar. Don’t forget to add it to your order – just scan it and it’s yours.

Thanks to a new app from Tesco, these scenarios are now not as crazy as they might sound. The downside? You need an iPhone and a Tesco online shopping account to benefit.

But is this something that people really want to use? Tesco.com’s chief executive Laura Wade-Gery obviously thinks so, insisting, “This is the perfect solution for iPhone lovers that are always forgetting to add items to their shopping list or haven’t the time to even write one.”

This is undoubtedly the appeal for me. I’m an obsessive shopping-list writer and spend a good 15 minutes going through my cupboards and fridge-freezer to see what’s nearly empty before I head to the shops.

My perfect app would scan the items onto a list I could take with me, but I can see how online shoppers could save heaps of time by simply scanning the contents of their cupboards. Beats searching online anyday.

As with any new app, there’s bound to be teething problems so we thought we’d give it a test run on a few items we gathered from staff desks. Once you get the hang of holding the item the right way round, scanning is a doddle. We scanned five items and it recognised three, but wasn’t sure about the Orbit chewing gum or Twinings peppermint tea.

Let’s just hope these mystery items don’t lead to crazy substitutions like those we found in a recent investigation into online shopping. Getting chocolate pudding when you wanted black pudding isn’t what the app ordered.


I, for one, like the idea although I admit my dietary requirements* ensure I wouldn’t actually use it. However, I suspect several of my friends would.

I would offer that it would be useful if it wasn’t just aligned to an online account but indeed allowed for just a standard shopping list to be made.
That, I might have used.

* Vegan, unprocessed foods.

Like cat m I have to follow a diet and look forward to the day when I can scan a barcode to get dietary information about groceries etc into a database to help me keep my food diary.

I think these apps are great. I’ve been using the Ocado one for a few months and our shopping has never been easier. No longer do we forget to add things to the shopping list, we don’t have a shopping list, its just a case of simply scanning the barcode every time you finish something and it is in your online shopping basket.
Now all we have to do to get the weekly shop is press go once a week, or maybe spend a little bit of time getting those extra treats, but it is now so much easier than it was before and we never over order either.

pickle says:
27 October 2010

That’s all very well, but I prefer to make my selection in store. That way I can see what I am buying and whether it is fresh (particulary vegetables). It also avoids substitution of things by store.

Vynor Hill says:
28 October 2010

I hate self service checkouts but might consider using a phone barcode reader if my bill was waiting for me as I arrived at the checkout. Sainsbury or Safeway (I think) had a bar code reader for customers to trawl round with. It died a death. Of course, shopping like this would be expensive in phone time if there was a charge for every minute spent scanning in store. Maybe it’s the shape of technology to come and the end of the check out queue. Dig me up when they’ve succeeded.

Robert Smith says:
31 October 2010

I don’t have an I-Phone so I don’t really know what an App is. But if it is something you use on a phone then it is costing you money.
If Tesco or any of the other supermarkets gave you money for self checkout then it may be worth doing but for me to do all their work so they don’t have to employ as many staff is not on. For God’s sake they will want be to stack their shelves next and still charge me!

Lets talk about “What shoppers really, really want”

I want the app – but I want it to tell me where in the weekly isle swap about the product has been re-located to in order to annoy all male shoppers.
Tesco management – I’m looking at you!

It would also help if they put a unit in store.

Q: Ginger stem?
A: Isle 14b (the sub part is essential.

Even the local supervisors couldn’t find it, nor could the personal shoppers, whose machines had the wrong isles in them and this week the sign marked ‘Nuts’ was two aisles removed from the actual product.
Do they not own crowbars?

They sign should be hauled down and re-placed over the display manager’s office (or cage)

Shoppers do not ‘browse’, we just get annoyed.
IF we could find the goods in a short and thusly efficient usage of my time – then I’d browse for new stuff.

Got that Tesco?