Adding Multiple Products via IFTTT

An update for our IFTTT channel users – new and old.

When we launched the Tesco channel on If This Then That, we were keen to hear how it was being used, and if there was anything that you – the user –  would change, or like to be added, to improve the functionality. We were delighted that so many of you got in touch via twitter and email to let us know that you would value an amend to the “Add Product to Basket” action – allowing you to add multiple products at a time, rather than just one.

IFTTT Tweet

We’re pleased to confirm that this development has now been completed, with the Add Products to Basket action triggered by IFTTT in the same way as before. This allows a list of products to be easily generated by searching for keywords, brands or products and adding or removing them from your list; which can then be copied and pasted back into the IFTTT action. For ease of use, existing product lists in IFTTT can also be copied into the Tesco Search page and amended there.

We think that the potential benefits of using this multi-product function are almost endless, but here are a few of our favourite ways to use this update which you may wish to try to get you started:

  • If you know that there are items you need regularly, but not with every shop, why not set up a recurring action to add all the items you need at a suitable frequency. For example, add all household cleaning products every 8 weeks, or baked beans every fortnight.
  • By associating products with a special calendar event (for example, parties, birthdays or barbeques), you can ensure that you never forget these items again.
  • Why not create product lists associated with specific meal plans or recipes? You will then have the ability to add products to your basket based on your meal planning for the week.

IFTTT is now also compatible with Amazon’s Alexa, so you can employ voice activated assistance via the Echo or Dot. Here at Labs, we think that Conversational Interfaces in general are hugely exciting, as they provide the ultimate convenience experience. As a food retailers, our first goal is to understand how our customers would use such technology and for what purpose. We’ve already seen mCommerce accelerate ‘little and often’ – the concept of adding grocery items to their basket every now and then (rather than sitting down to place one big order), so the question is whether this tech will enhance that experience or change it completely.Watch this space for news on future Labs experiments and learnings!

As ever, we look forward to hearing about how you’re using this new development – let us know your feedback via email or on twitter.

Tesco Labs Developer Portal

We’re happy to be exposing our grocery product search functionality on the new Tesco Labs developer portal.

Sound interesting? Head on over to devportal.tescolabs.com where you’ll find all the details including how to sign up, documentation, and example code.

This is the first step on a roadmap that will see more of the services that we use internally, made public. The next step is to provide more extensive and detailed product information, including nutrition and ingredients as well as the full product catalogue, not just groceries. Then we’ll aim to add Tesco store locations, addresses and opening hours.

Beyond that, the roadmap also includes things like creating and modifying baskets and retrieving your order history.

If you’re planning on making anything using this and future APIs, or have any feedback let us know using the contact details below.

Don’t forget you can use IFTTT if you’d like to create and modify your basket using all sorts of custom triggers (including product price changes).

Launching Tesco on If This Then That (IFTTT.com)

With the rise of connected home devices we’ve been experimenting with ways to help serve shoppers a little better every day and today we’re happy to announce one of these is now available to try.

At Tesco we’re always on the lookout for new and exciting ways for people to shop. In the past this has led to Tesco.com as well as the first barcode scanner in a mobile app etc.

If you’re reading this blog then the chances are that you might already know about IFTTT – it’s a platform for joining together all your different online accounts to enable you to do clever things. At the most basic level it lets you update Twitter and Facebook at the same time, get email alerts when rain is forecast or make sure you’ve got a backup of your phone contacts in a Google Spreadsheet. The basic structure consists of a trigger and an action. For example IF I change my Facebook profile photo THEN change my Twitter one too.

IFTTT_Logo

From today you’ll be able to do some simple actions with Tesco online too.

We’ve created our own channel on IFTTT with two triggers and a single action. You can now trigger any other action on IFTTT if the price of a Tesco product changes or if it goes below a certain price. On the action side you can use any of the triggers to add a specified item into your basket.

That might sound a bit complicated but here’s a few examples to illustrate…

examples

To get started you just need to have an IFTTT account and add the Tesco channel. When you set it up you’ll have to sign in to your Tesco Groceries account to prove who you are but then you should be away.

We’re really interested to see what uses people come up with for this so publish your recipes on IFTTT and get in touch (in the comments below or on twitter or email) if you’ve got any feedback or ideas.

Ok Glass, Find a product…

A developer’s perspective on one of the most talked about wearables of recent times.

My colleagues have heard me say this several hundred times over the last few months. They have taken delight in the different search terms I have had to come up with; partly to test the glassware, but also just to entertain them. It’s rather liberating to talk to yourself at your desk, despite the ridicule from your colleagues.

Of course, you can also scan a barcode: “Ok Glass scan a product”.

We started this experiment in June last year. We had a prototype working, and filmed a conceptual video about how customers might use the glassware. Since then, it has changed substantially, although the principle functions remain. We have refined and shortened the user journeys and also clarified the experience to make it consistent with the Glass design patterns. 

If you are already a Glass wearer, you should find the experience very familiar and you can try the glassware out. As this is a very early experiment you can only add items to your basket and view nutritional information, but it’s enough to give a sense of what it would be like to interact with Tesco on this type of hardware.

Download it

More info and support

From a developers’ perspective, working with Glass has been a joy. The updates to Android Studio that have made Android development more accessible all apply to Glass development. The Glass Development Kit (GDK) documentation is good and getting better. The community is helpful and proactive about sharing knowledge, especially on stackoverflow. The Glass team at Google does all they can to try to make sure the glassware delivers the best experience possible.  This is a challenge given how Glass is still being developed, so it can be somewhat of a moving target. The Glass software platform went through 6 updates in the time we worked with it, which shows how much Google is still investing in the platform.

Given the steady flow of software updates, and the various articles that have been published alluding to updated Glass hardware,  I can’t help but feel this is still the beginning of the journey for Glass and for Tesco.

Digital Childhood

How will Digital Natives change the way we think about technology in future?

It’s Saturday morning. I’ve been tasked with tidying up the living room, as we have friends coming over later – and apparently we can’t expect them to tip toe over the Lego train set on the floor…

My first job: clean the TV screen. I know; you’re probably thinking that can’t be the most important thing to clean, but you should see the state of it! The reason it’s so dirty is my kids think they can change the channel by swiping the screen… and here begins the realisation that they’re growing up in the Digital Age.

They’re so used to touch, swipe and voice recognition that they just expect everything to work that way. My three-year-old son watches Peppa Pig via YouTube on an iPad. He can’t read, he can’t spell, but he’s worked out that by tapping the microphone symbol on the search box, he can say “Peppa Pig” and be presented with a list of videos to watch. I’m beginning to wonder if he’ll ever want to read and write!

I like my tech, but I didn’t grow up with an expectation – even a reliance – on it, but times have changed. We need to make sure we’re thinking about how these Digital Natives will expect to interact with us as they mature, get their first ClubCard, do their first shop, and open their first bank account. At first I was reluctant to let my kids loose with technology, but now I’ve embraced it, and it is really making a difference. It’s great for education (spelling, reading and maths apps are great), it’s great for on demand content, and it’s great for gaming.

What sets digital natives apart is a willingness to try, a lack of fear, and a ruthless attitude to technology. They’ll give it a go, and if it works for them great; if it doesn’t, it’s thrown on the scrap-heap and forgotten about forever! This applies to both hardware and software (especially mobile applications), and when something gains momentum – be it positive or negative – it spreads like wildfire over social media. I can’t work out if it’s an amazing time to be an application developer, or a daunting one: there are no second chances now. Digital Natives are a great source of inspiration for me, and I’m lucky I can make a difference by investigating technology for Tesco to cater to what they’ll expect in the future.

Another major source of inspiration for me is film. I’m fascinated by how film production has developed as I’ve grown up – especially computer animated film. I’m also fascinated with the technology in sci-fi/futuristic films, and how much of it will become reality. Robots, Self-Driving Cars, Gesture Interfaces, Voice Control, Holographic Displays and Augmented Reality are all technologies I’ve been introduced to through film, and have ended up investigating for real as part of my job. My favourite question to ask our partners and vendors is, ‘What was the last film you watched where the plot had a technology that made you go, “Wow!”?’

No prizes for guessing that Minority Report, iRobot and Avatar are popular answers… drop us a line and tell us your favourite.

Image credit: Steve Paine. Original image can be found here.

Project: Health Buddy

What role can Tesco play in promoting good health and wellbeing?

Background and Introduction

What we eat can contribute a huge amount to our general health and wellbeing. As the UK’s biggest supermarket, Tesco recognises the key role it can play in promoting good health and wellness.

The app and wearable tech market, in particular, has grown dramatically over the last 3-4 years. Health products from Nike, FitBit, JawBone and Pebble have emerged on the market as fantastic Health aids.

In the lab we wanted to see whether we could develop a product that would harness the excitement generated by this new app and wearables market, but put a Tesco spin on it.

Goals and Objectives

HealthBuddy is ostensibly research driven, we’ve had ‘fun’ exploring:

  • Alternative ways for customers to record their daily calorie consumption.
  • Utilising in-built android phone sensors to track customers daily activity.
  • Pairing an Android application with a wearable hear-rate monitoring device.
  • The latest Android UI patterns.
  • Activity based gamification mechanics.
  • How to build mobile apps using the Xamarin platform.

Our aim has not been to produce an application we would immediately give to customers.

Where We’re At Now

We have built and Android app that delivers on what we set out in our goals and objectives. Customers can use HealthBuddy to track their calorie consumption in multiple ways and monitor four variations of physical activity.

Customers can select an activity goal when they setup a profile. A simple overview screen is available to track progress. Rewards are released for achieving activity goals which can then be shared socially.

Our next step is to test HealthBuddy with a control group and gain feedback on potential uses for the prototype moving forward.

Where’s the milk?

We’ve been checking out Google glass for a few months now; experimenting with applications for colleagues and customers while evaluating the technology itself.

Immediately, we thought about how our colleagues might be able to use Glass to check stock hands-free, or how our customers might be able to add a product to their grocery delivery basket while making a cup of tea. Getting to that stage has been a journey into entirely new areas of user interaction: new gestures, user interface elements, and input mechanisms.

Most of all, it’s about trying to understand the use-cases for Glass. It’s unlike any other hardware technology we’ve had before, so we tend to try and apply the use-cases we see for mobiles, tablets and desktop computing to see if they stick to Glass. They mostly don’t. Glass isn’t the kind of tech you use for 15, 10 or even 5 minutes at a time. You’re not going to comfortably do your entire grocery shop by staring at the top right-hand corner of your field of vision, but you might just add a single item, see some nutritional information, and then move on. You might get a notification about your delivery, including a photo of your delivery driver.

Shopping with Glass

Click to play video.

Other than some time-compression between adding items to the basket and the actual delivery, the prototype app is real; no smoke and mirrors there. Every once in a while, a new piece of technology comes a long that pushes the boundaries of science-fiction, making all sorts of potential use-cases an immediately reality. Glass feels like one of those technologies, in the sort of way WiFi or Smart Phones changed things. This is just the beginning of our journey with Glass, but we’re very excited about it and other wearables, and most importantly how you will use wearable technology to interact with Tesco.

Let us know your thoughts!

Project: Inform

Putting information into the hand of our colleagues.

Background and Introduction

A lot has changed over the last decade. Most of us now carry a powerful computer in their pocket – their smartphone.

Tesco currently offer various customer apps across a number of platforms. Our grocery shopping app is actually now in its third generation and there is lots more to come in that area.

Continuing in this vein “Inform” is our first ‘colleague’ app and we’ve now launched it to all store managers in the UK.

Goals and Objectives

If you’re a store manager you can scan a barcode on a product or on a shelf edge label and quickly get back a load of information about the product from the central systems.

If there’s no product left on the shelf they can use this information to do some troubleshooting to find out what has happened and hopefully get the product back on sale.

Where We’re At Now

So far in trials it has been very successful and colleagues really love having this information at their fingertips.

They can also have it on whatever device they’re used to; iOS or Android (with Windows phone coming soon).

As the world gets more and more mobile we will see more apps that help our colleagues as well our customers get access to useful information.