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Is Shopping Really a Desirable Destination Experience?

Is Shopping Really a Desirable Destination Experience?

Although Tescos is rarely a stranger to the news for very long, eyebrows may have been raised  at the notion that the retailing giant could be a holiday dream, but hold on.

All those Tesco haters – and there are many – must have rejoiced when their relentless growth hit the buffers and when they baled out of their foray into the US market taking a $3.5bn write down in the process.

Others will have sympathised with my view in Grumpy Old Shopper about poor service actually being at the heart of their UK troubles and my attempt to persuade CEO Philip Clarke to come shopping with me.

But rest assured, in fact Tescos are still at the forefront of the latest retailing trend – creating destinations for customers. Changing the nature of the shopping ‘experience’.

The Giraffe in the Room

Not so much an elephant in the room (something so big that nobody can fail to notice it but nobody mentions it), Tesco has snapped up the Giraffe chain for almost £50m.

Gushing statements said news-bites like ‘the acquisition forms part of our strategy to develop space in some of our larger stores and create compelling retail destinations.’ They thought that ‘buying the restaurant group will create places where consumers want to ‘eat and drink, as well as shop’.’

The purchase compliments recent acquisitions of coffee chain Harris & Hoole, Euphorium Bakery and the streaming service, Blinkbox. It’s business as usual – growth and expansion in every direction. Who’d have thought years ago that supermarkets would become banks?

They told Metro (March 2013) that the identity of the chain, founded in 1998 and now sporting almost fifty sites, will remain. The shopping mall of multi-outlets is becoming the Tesco mall.

Tesco Technology & Entertainment

If you catch sight of the Tesco magazine, Technology & Entertainment, it’s worth a read through. It’s a freebie, but planets away from the recipes and bland celeb stories of other commonplace checkout mags.

This glossy one has got health stories, games, streaming, trending, features, photos, how-stuff-works and reviews all angled from both tech and entertainment perspectives. It’s a catalogue, for goodness’ sake, wrapped up as a must-have lifestyle, choices mag.

The editorial tags it as ‘your one-stop source for gadget news, reviews and advice…’ Indeed, 158 gadgets were featured in the Spring 2013 edition. And where would you think first to look to buy something you fancied reviewed? Why, Tesco, of course.

Nothing wrong with clever marketing. The point is that they’ll describe appealing stuff, they’ll install and service it, they’ll persuade you to adopt the lifestyle of the product. This mag IS a lifestyle in its own right.

Every page tells you how to buy in store, online, by phone. Buy it now, order it, click and collect. The high street and retailing revolution is surging ahead. Soon, you can use augmented reality to try anything on for size, match any household item to suit your home.

The data they have on you through ClubCard and other sources makes what official agencies hold seem like small beer. Target advertising towards you and your wants/needs is a mild descriptor of what you will ‘experience’.

If you’re in a huge TescoWorld retail experience destination with different brand names for your food, white goods, coffee stops, lunch, home entertainment, why would you need to go anywhere else?

And if it all gets too oppressive, one day they might sell you fresh air cans, along with your bank account/mortgage, holiday/travel, wedding and even funeral requirements.

Suddenly, technology and retailing are clever moves, feeling natural, even evolutionary, inevitable and profitable. Have a good holiday!

FOOTNOTE: Since writing this it’s been announced that they could be running yoga classes, music lessons and birthday parties in specially installed community rooms within stores, starting at Tesco Extra, Watford following similar schemes in Tesco Asia!

Be sure to put in your trolley:

Metro, Tesco buy Giraffe restaurant chain, 13 March 2013

Death of the High Street in the Digital Age Is Over Exaggerated, 4 March 2013

Hidden Charges Are the Sting in the Tail of Online Shopping, 4 December 2012

The Longest Coffee Breaks in the World, 11 July 2012

Virtual Vacations Are Holidays of the Future, 15 May 2012

Shock and Sell, Cry and Buy: the Slogans of Advertising, 13 December 2011

Augmented Reality Changes Shopping Virtually Forever, 28 November 2011

Every Little Helps in Store Wars, 13 October 2011

A Great Idea for a Short Story, Novel, Film About the Future, 9 April 2013