Tesco launches wireless shopping

Pocket Shopper

British shoppers are now able to buy their groceries via handheld computers in what is claimed to be a world's first.

Tesco launched its "Pocket Shopper" service on Monday that enables customers of its on-line store, Tesco.com, to make purchases from a menu of around 20,000 grocery products using handheld computers that run on Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system. Users will also be able to access relevant updates on prices and stock using Pocket PC-enabled handheld devices.

According to Tesco, the new system means that shoppers need not be on-line with desktop or laptop to buy goods. Customers can select the products they want via their handheld computer and then complete the order by synchronising with an Internet-enabled PC or by using a wireless connection to the Internet.

Tesco said that the service is aimed at working mothers and commuters. "We expect the first 'pocket shoppers' to be busy career mums who spend their working lives finding efficiency savings in the office and want to apply the same smart thinking to free up more time for family life," said Carolyn Bradley, chief operating officer of Tesco.com. "Being able to shop anywhere on the tube, train, bus or even plane is an advantage many commuters would also love to have."

Tesco.com, which had a turnover last year of STG300 million, said that it did not have any targets for customer take-up, but had introduced the service due to customer demand.

As well as being compatible with any Pocket PC-enabled handset, Pocket Shopper can also be used by owners of the new XDA from O2, which combines a PDA with a mobile and runs on the same Microsoft operating system. The Pocket Shopper software, which was written by the DAT Group in conjunction with Tesco.com, is free and can be download from the Tesco Web site.

A spokesperson for Tesco Ireland told ElectricNews.Net that the company had no immediate plans to offer the service to users of its e-tailing service, Tesco.ie. However, the spokesperson said the retailer would monitor customer interest in such a service.

Meanwhile, another British supermarket chain is testing a system that could spell the end for written shopping lists. Sainsbury's is currently testing an egg-shaped pocket scanner that scans the barcodes on products. Once the user has scanned the products, they bring the device to an in-store computer, which produces an electronic shopping list.

"People can carry the scanner with them all the time," said a spokesperson for the company. "They might be at a dinner party and having enjoyed a particular bottle of wine they could then add it to their shopping list using the scanner." The Sunday Telegraph reported that the supermarket had yet to decide whether it will charge for the service.

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