Oracle OpenWorld 2013 Interview: Matt Atkinson, CMO, Tesco

Computer Weekly speaks to Matt Atkinson, CMO of Tesco, on how data is driving forward a successful multichannel digital operation

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: Computer Weekly: High street retailers fight back with multi-channel IT

Chief marketing officers (CMOs) and chief information officers (CIOs) are notorious for not working together on technology decisions within a business.

Their roles were traditionally very different, and they still don’t see eye to eye often.  Today, technology drives a significant amount of business decisions, making this disconnect a big problem.

This CMO-CIO disconnect can threaten the ability of companies to deliver effective customer experiences. Research from Accenture says only 45% of CIOs say that supporting marketing is near or at the top of their list of priorities, while over 30% of CMOs believe IT keeps marketing out of the loop and does not make time and technical resources available.

But Tesco CMO Matt Atkinson and his colleague CIO Mike McNamara work efficiently together to build out the retailer’s engaging multi-channel customer journey.

Atkinson, who has a background in technology and data, says “Mike [McNamara] is a technologist who speaks English. We have the same type of passion for customers, so we get on really well. And we spend a lot of time together, because we’re trying to re-engineer our business for the customer.”

A multi-channel customer is worth twice as much as a single-channel customer

Matt Atkinson, Tesco

Atkinson told Computer Weekly that the two come together for regular meetings, and conduct all of their product roadmap and governance together. “I trust Mike to do what he does and he trusts me to create things that customers want, need and enjoy using.”

The multi-channel experience

This relationship has led to a rewarding multi-channel experience for customers shopping at Tesco. The retailer, which was the first to provide online grocery delivery, has implemented innovative technologies – augmented reality mirrors in-store, its own 7in tablet, and its data-driven loyalty card scheme, the Clubcard.

Atkinson says a multi-channel customer is worth twice as much as a single-channel customer and is much more loyal. “When you look at the analytics, they have stuff delivered at home, they click and collect and they go into the shop. And it’s as simple as that. If you serve them in a connected way they just do more of what they’re trying to do.”

Tesco uses Oracle’s data analytics and database as well as its customer experience portfolio of cloud tools to drill down on the data of its customers.  

“We’re a really good data business because of Clubcard,” he says. The Tesco Clubcard was one of the first large-scale loyalty offerings in the UK and is almost 20 years old. Atkinson says that Clubcard makes Tesco really good at recognising its customer through the data that accumulates from what they buy in-store and online.

As a result of this data mining Tesco bought the data analytics company Dunnhumby to drive customer experience and build on its existing loyalty scheme.

Augmented bananas

During a keynote at the Oracle OpenWorld user conference in San Francisco, Atkinson showed a video of a multi-channel Tesco customer. During this video she created a shopping list on her mobile device in different ways. One of which was by augmented reality – she took a photograph of a banana to add the item to her shopping list. The woman later visited the store and forgot to pick up bananas and was reminded by a shop assistant at the point of sale.

Clubcard makes Tesco really good at recognising its customer through data

Matt Atkinson, Tesco

“We know it’s you,” explains Atkinson. “You’re using an augmented reality service which connects to the meta data – a banana – it’s an example of all those services working on your half to help you complete that action in a really easy way."

Data peak

Atkinson’s favourite example of innovative data analysis is how the company began its 24-hour opening hours. He says they could see signals in the data that particular stores were reaching maximum capacity and reaching a peak, then there was a curve as the capacity declined again. After visiting the store, they discovered that during these busy period people were driving into the car park, seeing it was busy and driving away.

“But we’d have never predicted that if we hadn’t seen the signal in the data,” he says. “It was reaching a peak and then we were losing business as a result. And that’s how we ended up doing 24-hour shopping.”

Mobile wallet

The Clubcard loyalty scheme lends itself well in the mobile space. He says customers are likely to use coupons in different ways and journeys – planned, reactive, in-store, web and mobile. He says a mobile wallet combines everything you want in one place.

The retailer plans for the Clubcard to become digital by the end of the year, allowing the paper coupons that customers receive to seamlessly integrate with the mobile app, so that at the point of sale, promotions will be instantly recognised.

But Atkinson also said that a fully integrated digital mobile wallet – the Tesco Home Plus – should be launched in the UK in about a year. It is already live in Korea, where customers can shop and pay using their mobile wallet app.

Because Tesco has a bank, its current strategy is to work with Tesco Bank to provide the wallet, which will integrate with other cards. He says this would attract some of their most loyal customers – the ones who already have Tesco Credit Card, which they get Clubcard points for using.

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