Tesco breakthrough: How supermarket joined Greggs and LloydsPharmacy in shop revolution

4 min


91
13 shares, 91 points

Online shopping has boomed during the pandemic, as the public adhere to the Government’s advice and try to avoid leaving their homes. While it is now unusual to find a home without the Internet, the phenomenon of electronic browsing only really began to take off in 1995. However, there were several pioneers who looked into alternative ways to shop more than a decade before. The BBC’s programme, Witness History, also explored the landmark moment last month.

{%=o.title%}

]]>

As part of a community project in 1984, Gateshead Council used new Videotex technology to link televisions to computers.

Those within the scheme could then use their remotes to place deliveries for Tesco, LloydsPharmacy or Greggs bakery — three major chains still dominating the market today.

The programme explained: “The town’s libraries, local university and council had come up with a plan to help the elderly, disabled and the vulnerable order their shopping without having to travel into the city centre.”

A press release from Gateshead Council from 2009 provides greater insight into the pivotal event.

Tesco breakthrough: How supermarket joined Greggs and LloydsPharmacy in shop revolution

Tesco, Greggs and Lloydspharmacy all took part in a key project in 1984, in Gateshead (Image: Getty)

Tesco breakthrough: How supermarket joined Greggs and LloydsPharmacy in shop revolution

The community project took place in Gateshead, and aimed to helped the elderly, disabled and vulnerable (Gateshead in the Seventies above) (Image: Getty)

It reads: “Mrs Jane Snowball, then 72, bought the first item from her local Tesco supermarket in May 1984, by using her television set and remote control.”

The technology itself had been designed by Michael Aldrich, then head of communications company Rediffusion.

He added: “We were, in a sense, 15 to 20 years ahead of our time.”

John Phelan, who designed the online shopping application, told the BBC: “Probably at that stage, in the early Eighties, Mr Joe Public had never seen a computer.”

READ MORE: Tesco delivery rules changed – new shopping rule with more limits

Tesco breakthrough: How supermarket joined Greggs and LloydsPharmacy in shop revolution

Tesco store opening in the Seventies — the supermarket was one of the first to join in with the shopping revolution (Image: Getty)

He explained how using a television made sense, because the general public were used to operating them.

The Post Office had actually triggered the initial wave of interest in technology when it pioneered Videotex in the Seventies.

The text was downloaded from a central computer and displayed on a TV set, which would be simple to use and interactive.

The viewer would select what pages they wanted to see through pressing buttons on their television remote control.

However, when Mr Aldrich first went public with his idea to turn this into a shopping system, the reception was quite lukewarm.

According to Mr Phelan, he was at risk of not “being taken seriously”.

DON’T MISS
Supermarket online order cancelled by your bank? Avoid losing delivery [INSIGHT]
Trapped pensioner forced to eat from bin after food delivery stolen [EXPLAINED]
Greggs’ reopening is postponed over fears of ‘excessive numbers’ [REVEALED]

Tesco breakthrough: How supermarket joined Greggs and LloydsPharmacy in shop revolution

Tesco clearly outranked its competitors in August 2019 in terms of customer spend (Image: Express.co.uk)

Tesco breakthrough: How supermarket joined Greggs and LloydsPharmacy in shop revolution

Goods from Greggs were also available to purchase through the new television system (Image: Getty)

It was through the community project in Gateshead that Mr Aldrich’s suggestion began to gain traction.

Mr Aldrich apparently instructed Mr Phelan to “picture what a shopping service would look like, which would then be a service to the elderly and infirm people”.

Digital technology at the time was still viewed with great reluctance at the time, so Mr Phelan was keen to put those within the project at ease through the television.

The designer explained: “My main thing was using what people could relate to, so a shopping basket was the type of terminology I used.

“An item of shopping would go into your shopping basket, a shopping list as opposed to trying to be ‘tech-y’ about it.”

He said it only took five minutes of training to get those on the scheme to adapt.

It was soon adopted in Bradford and gained national praise, especially among large corporations.

Mr Aldrich also explained to Gateshead Council back in 2009: “I was prompted to develop the system because I disliked the weekly family supermarket expedition and within five years Gateshead Council was providing it as a home shopping service for its less mobile citizens, with Mrs Snowball launching a worldwide industry.”

He added: “It was born out of the desire to provide a true public service and supported by the partners as such it helped people who needed helping.”

While the system soon fell out of favour within the UK, it was a success in France and led to the online shopping experience of the 21st Century.


Like it? Share with your friends!

91
13 shares, 91 points

What's Your Reaction?

hate hate
16
hate
confused confused
8
confused
fail fail
2
fail
fun fun
20
fun
geeky geeky
18
geeky
love love
12
love
lol lol
14
lol
omg omg
8
omg
win win
2
win

Read exclusive latest news on entertainment, music, gaming and more topics with unprecedented coverage from around the UK and US.

0 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.