Silicon Valley Trip

We’ve been to Silicon Valley in California, in search of the latest innovations and best innovators.

As you’ll remember from my last post I was due to jet off to Silicon Valley in California, in search of the latest innovations and best innovators.

On my trip I was joined by some of our IT leadership team, who – like me – were keen to visit this huge and thriving area. The aim of the trip was to engage with some of the vast amounts of innovation going on and to figure out how we can best tap into it, in the future. Strategically it’s really important that Tesco is in the thick of it, meeting the right people so that we’re well placed to take advantage of innovations which can really develop how we do business.

What really impressed me was the sheer volume of start-ups and the amount of investment flowing into them, which is around $3bn a year. Many of them are working on retail issues or areas that are associated with retail and it left me with the feeling that it really can’t be long before we see that next big thing.

Whilst I didn’t spot anything this time around which is likely to be a game changer in the near future, there were a few companies which still really caught the eye.

One company organises rewards for customers based on their achievements. Say for example you have a running app and you go jogging every evening, it might be that one day you check your rewards account and find that you beat your personal best and that there’s a present waiting for you. They’ve flipped the typical model on its head and it has proved very successful. Rather than registering for incentives, people go about their normal lives and are given ‘presents’ for achieving certain things. People don’t expect the rewards but from time to time will be entitled to them. This has led to really high rates of engagement and people love the surprise.

The other concept I want to mention, is a way of measuring the world around us. We saw a couple of companies that could use existing technology to accurately measure an aspect of your life (like your home, or your body) to help you make better choices when buying items online. For example, using the Matterport scanner pictured below you could take these computer ‘models’ and dress them with furniture or clothes in order to see how they might look once they are delivered. These 3D models are interactive and allow you to remove, move and insert items so that you can build up a new outfit or room layout.


(Matterport Scanner)

I also spent a few days in San Francisco as ‘the valley’ is expanding its northern reaches into the city. I was lucky enough to meet with some really big players as well as those who are part of fast growing and exciting start-ups. The start-up industry is an interesting mix of venture capitalists, incubators, start-ups themselves and larger companies who still thrive there.

It was fantastic to be out there meeting some of these really interesting people and I’ve definitely built up my network of useful contacts! My trip reaffirmed to me the importance of having an open, creative and innovative working culture. As we look ahead to the changing retail landscape we know that innovation will be key to ensuring that we are successful and continue to deliver an outstanding customer experience.