Tesco IT chief learns a lesson

Tesco's UK IT director learnt a valuable lesson when he went "back to the floor" at one of the supermarket chain's stores during...

Tesco's UK IT director learnt a valuable lesson when he went "back to the floor" at one of the supermarket chain's stores during the summer: listen to your users.

Colin Cobain spent a week in a Devon store during August carrying out a variety of roles, including working on the checkouts.

It was during his time as a checkout assistant that Cobain decided to put a halt on an IT project that he and the rest of the Tesco board had given the go-ahead for.

"We had agreed, from the comfort of the boardroom, that it would be a good idea to re-sequence the product look-up guide on the tills so that the numbers of the most common products without barcodes [primarily fresh produce] would appear at the top," explained Cobain .

"However, from working on the tills, I discovered that the checkout staff know the numbers of the most common products anyway, so we decided against it."
An area of retail IT where Tesco will definitely be ploughing ahead is radio frequency identification tagging (RFID), said Cobain.

"We want to be an early adopter of RFID - the major technology of the next few years," he said. "We are planning a trial with Gillette involving item tagging, and we are also toying with a number of other ideas for next year."

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