4 ways Waitrose plans to use technology to outsmart its rivals

Kasmira Jefford
Follow Kasmira
Britain’s upmarket grocer Waitrose’s is trialling an array of new technology and services at its newly opened Swindon store that it hopes will give it the edge over its rivals and lure more customers through its doors.
In a presentation to analysts and media last week, managing director Mark Price said the 40,000 square feet store was a “strategic response to future retail.” Here, we list some of the digital concepts it sees being part of consumers’ future shopping trips:
1. iBeacons
Waitrose is working with Deloitte Digital on installing so-called iBeacons in its stores. These are small wireless, bluetooth enabled sensors created by Apple that allow mobile apps to recognise when a smartphone is nearby. These beacons will allow Waitrose transmit special promotions, coupons, recommendations to shoppers as these stroll down the aisles.
2. WaitroseCellar.com
The grocer is poised to launch a new dedicated site that will allow shoppers to browse and pay for wines, read tasting notes as well as food recommendations from their specialists. Customers will also be able to post reviews for the first time on any of Waitrose’s websites. Shoppers will also be able to scan a wine they see in store with their mobile, bringing up information on that bottle.
3. QikServe and Paypal
Waitrose is also in talks with Paypal to use its QikServe app to allow customers to order and pay for food and drink within its stores. The idea is that shoppers wanting, for example, to buy a smoothie at its juice bar in Swindon can order and pay for it using their smartphone on their way to the store, ready to pick up when they arrive. A picture of the shopper shows up on the juice bar ipad so that Waitrose staff can recognise them on arrival.
4. Quick Check
Waitrose is exploring taking the Quick Check technology that it uses for its scan and go handsets in store and applying it to smartphones. The app will allow shoppers to scan products and pay for products on their phone as they shop through the store to avoid queuing at the checkout counter.
As well as ipads to order celebration cakes and food to eat in store, Waitrose has also launched a number of features to differentiate itself including a concierge-style welcome desk where myWaitrose card holder can pick up their free coffee, as well as bakery counter, a juice bar, a horticulture area and a so-called “grazing” area next to its meat counter, where shoppers can order a sandwich or a platter of meat and cheese.
Price said the fast-growing chain was well equipped to take on the challenge posed by discounters as well, as the price cuts and initiatives being taken by the big four to combat them.
“It’s fair to say we have embraced technology, both in terms of what it can do to drive the efficiency of our operation but also how it can improve the customer experience. Again something that discounters are never going to do”, he said.