New Innovation, Tesco’s New Drive Through Supermarket

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Scrunched paper with a light bulbNow, here’s an interesting story this week from one of the UK’s bigger supermarkets:

Supermarket giant Tesco is set to open the UK’s first drive-thru store. The service is aimed at customers who do not want to carry out their weekly shop themselves, but who also do not have time to wait at home for an internet delivery. Instead, for a flat fee of £2, they will be able to drive to a dedicated area in a Tesco store at a set time and pick up their shopping without having to leave their car.

If it is successful, the group plans to roll it out across other areas of the country, although it does not have a timescale for the expansion.

Laura Wade-Gery, chief executive of Tesco dotcom and Tesco Direct, said: ‘This will be especially popular with busy mums who have the school run and children’s activities to manage.

‘It also offers a solution to parents who want to avoid the challenge of shopping in a busy store with children in tow but can’t afford the time to stay in for the shop to arrive to their door.

‘We also expect it to help young professionals who want the convenience of a pre-picked and packed shop but who cannot commit to waiting at home for delivery.’

Have Tesco found a new way to entice customers? Or is it simply a new marketing gimmick?

People like this gentleman from Birmingham, UK, think it’s a great idea.  “I used to enjoy shopping at a variety of outlets not just supermarkets, but having been on crutches for the last 6 months, due to a failed knee replacement that’s got to be taken out and replaced, I’d probably have starved if it weren’t for the big supermarkets’ online ordering and delivery service – its been a godsend! When you’re on crutches its physically impossible to go shopping – you can’t push a trolley, you can’t carry a basket and if, like me, you’ve also got acute arthritis in your other ‘good’ knee, you probably can’t manage more than a few yards anyway”

Others are a little more sceptical. Nick Bubb, retail analyst at Arden Partners, said he could see the appeal of the service to ‘time-starved mums’, but questioned whether it would have any great impact. ‘I am not sure how many Tesco stores will be big enough to offer this,’ he added, ‘and I am not sure if rivals will follow suit as they will not have the store size to undertake it efficiently.’

Mintel analyst Richard Perks also raised doubts over the scalability of the initiative, suggesting it represented little more than a ‘marketing venture’.

‘Online sales at Tesco account for less than 5% of overall sales,’ he said. ‘This is about attracting marginal business.’

Whether or not it will be successful for Tesco, only time will tell. But you have to admire them for their pioneering spirit and their thinking out of the box. They have created a new and different way for people to enjoy their products and services. Even if there is little demand for it, the new service will attract interest and maybe take a small amount of business from rivals.
Tesco have looked at the market and seen a possible niche and you can’t knock them for that. It also creates thought-starters for businesses who want to innovate.
What can we pick up from this?
  • Firstly, look at specific areas where you could offer different ways of purchasing to your current and new customers
  • Ask customers how you could change the way you deliver quality, service, products etc. to them
  • Be aware of new initiatives that your competition are taking and identify what you can do to differentiate from them
  • Demand from your colleagues and partners a regular new initiative to offer something that keeps you in your customers’ minds.
Keep an eye out for how Tesco’s new initiative goes down. If you can learn from it and find a way to identify new niches for your services, you may open up a lot more opportunities for yourself. And that can only be good for business!
Happy selling!

Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling

MTD Sales Training | Sales Blog

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Originally published: 25 August, 2010