back to article Tesco preps for Big Data Engine dump: Laters, Clubcard dev

Retail titan Tesco is investigating the sale of Dunnhumby, the big data and data science wrangler it took over in 2004, which had helped propel the supermarket to national dominance. Tesco, Britain’s largest food retailer, has confirmed it has appointed a team of strategic advisors to explore “strategic options” for Dunnhumby …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    What's with the pictures...

    ..c'mon nearly everyone is sick of them.

    This time a huge picture of a £20 note. If you want pictures here's a hint, use ones that are relevant, not just "oh yeah that'll do.

    You could of used this as a starting point (it took seconds to find it)

    http://www.tescoplc.com/index.asp?pageid=69

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's with the pictures...

      Agree ... I eventually decided to do something about this a couple of hours ago. Turns out to be very simple to craft an AdBlock rule that eliminates all the top of article pictures and it's all so much better now! Suppose I may lose the occasional "relevant" picture - but that's a very rare event now.

    2. dogged

      Re: What's with the pictures...

      I would have gone for this picture instead.

      You can't copyright something you painted on somebody else's wall.

  2. Tromos

    Only one thing can save them

    Bring back Green Shield stamps!

    1. Blank-Reg
      Thumb Up

      Re: Only one thing can save them

      For 200,000 stamps, you can have your very own Austin Maestro in brown!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So after a bad year they dump a unit that generated profits for decades

    Talk about short sightedness. Hail to the short term financial results above all else.

    Exactyl when non-technology business will realize that technology is no longer a cost center but a profit generator? Seem to be hard to understand even for banks.

    And yes, please, stop the annoying pointless header photo.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So after a bad year they dump a unit that generated profits for decades

      Depends ... They might not need the subsidiary, which works as an agency for other people, and might just concentrate on doing it for themselves in-house and generating themselves £2bn in the process.

      The speciality that Dunnhumby brought was essential but that knowledge is now integrated into their data warehousing and clubcard system. The new innovation within that department might no longer be forthcoming so they can just use the current systems to do the analysis that they currently do with no negative effects. A bit like bringing in a consultant to set up a major db system and then putting them on a long term contract to maintain it. Once the system works exactly as you would hope and you have the skills in-house to maintain it you might consider losing this resource as that level of expertise is no longer needed.

      The only downside that I could then see would be the new owners punting the services to rival supermarkets which bring with them the knowledge of Tesco, however a sale clause could presumably curb this for a significant amount of time.

      1. Daggerchild Silver badge

        Re: So after a bad year they dump a unit that generated profits for decades

        It still doesn't make sense tho - even if they do it in house, they're doing it because it's still business critical.

        i.e. they have a Golden Goose now, so they're getting rid of the Golden Goose factory.. So.. other people don't want Golden Geese?

        I think instead they've actually gone and broken it, and now they're trying to find somewhere to bury the body. That fits the evidence a lot better.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So after a bad year they dump a unit that generated profits for decades

          Unless the data model changes, and therefore the schema and analysis change, these applications are fixed short of something like an operating system update trashing it. And if you practice enough foresight to allow the addition of fields to the model and the application self-updates to incorporate into future analyses, that's covered as well. I did one of those for an epidemiological forecasting system for a hospital. It's been some seventeen years and they are still pleased with it.

  4. auburnman

    If your game plan is to be the kind of shop that stocks everything, you suffer from all directions when recession bites and the public cut back their spending.

  5. Deej

    The one thing that Tesco forgot a long time ago was customer service. I've been into Tesco many times when the staff at the checkouts have been chatting to each other without even acknowledging me, and then just holding out their hand for payment. Based on this, I refuse to shop in Tesco any more - I can't be the only one that is like this. Sainsburys' terminals even says "Greet Customer" before products are put through - a cheery 'hello' can make all the difference in my opinion.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Tesco have lost the plot on all of the basics of their core trade one of which, as pointed out, is elementary customer service. Sainsburys do seem to have it right though - there are two "mini" supermarkets near where I am, one a Sainsburys Local and a Budgens. From the start all staff in the Sainsbury Local have made a point of clear greetings and farewells, most of the Budgens grunt at you if that much - one rude arse just held his hand out for the money and didn't say a word. Guess which is the more pleasant place to shop? Sainsburys without a doubt. Guess which seem to have the happier staff? Sainsburys as well - just the basics of human interaction seem to be keeping the Sainsburys staff in a better mood (and overheard conversations seem to reflect this as well). It's also interesting to note that Sainsburys have audio recording at their tills which could help to enforce this as well as I suspect that it's a concerted effort from Sainsburys rather than just staff initiative.

      [from inside sources] Where Tesco also fail is that their head office is an utter shambles with a lot of reportedly quality staff leaving for nicer places. The staff that seem to be sticking around are those who brown nose their way everywhere and those with no interest in anything much other than their own personal status quo. They're promoting the wrong staff into the wrong places with inexperienced (e.g. cheap) staff in critical roles (some departments are known locally as "the creche" as a result), devaluing good and / or experienced staff until they leave and the result is an impending growing mess that'll likely implode soon enough. On top of this they are also attempting to offshore as much of their core operations as possible, which as we all know works so well when you add in even cheaper staff, language and context issues and a few thousand miles of not giving a shit.

      It could be that somebody with a clue has taken over at the top and is savvy enough to spot the problems and how to fix them by establishing a focus on their core business.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Megaphone

      Don't start me on Sainsburys, their self serve wind me up (petty I know)

      1. Why, when I put in my debit card, do I have to press the button that says use debit card, because it's detected I have a debit card in the reader and therefore I need to press the debit card button, only then have to remove it, because I've inserted it to early...FFS if you detect a debit card, then fucking use it. Tesco's and several others have no issue with this.

      2. "Have you swiped you nectar card?", well clearly I haven't you heap of shit, otherwise you wouldn't be prompting me for it would you? Try "Swipe now if you have a Nectar card" or "Don't forget to swipe your Nectar card"...

      And relax....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Funny, I find the Tesco machines more annoying. When you use Sainsurys it asks if you've used any of your own bags and gives you a nectar point (although not for long). When you use Tesco you have to manually press a button and tell it that you've used your own bag, then it proudly anounces to the whole store

        "Your GREEEEEN clubcard points will appear on your next clubcard statement" annoucning to everyone nearby what a sad git I am.

    3. FlatSpot

      Customer Service

      Yep, its almost like a challenge for their staff to throw your shopping down the checkout as fast as possible so it all piles up and then sit there tutting at you, while you try to find the room to pack it.

      1. cambsukguy

        Re: Customer Service

        That's funny. When I uses the checkout service in the olden days, the staff waited and waited for me to load all much stuff on the conveyor until I was at the other end ready with the trolley and bags.

        Any kind of attempt to get them to go before I moved was met with "Don't worry luvvy, I don't mind waiting", despite the fact that it was obviously me that minded the wait.

        I felt that I could pack faster then someone could find a barcode and beep the stuff through, often a close run thing especially if you used you own bags and wanted to be efficient.

        Still, who cares if a few items pile up?

        I still don't get why we don't have the system that every continental place I have been has which is to have a splitter at the checkout and the checkout operator is happily shifting the next person's items through while you are packing yours.

        In Finland (bless their brilliant designs) they had a three-way system, longer checkouts, thinner catchment area so that even slowcoaches didn't block up the system. This was in the city markets where they are barely larger than our convenience stores but are used by the majority of people living within the central areas at least (they don't have cars often either so they are carrying what they buy).

        1. Number6

          Re: Customer Service

          I still don't get why we don't have the system that every continental place I have been has which is to have a splitter at the checkout and the checkout operator is happily shifting the next person's items through while you are packing yours.

          Not common, but I have seen such checkouts in the UK in the past.

          1. WorkingFromHome

            Re: Customer Service

            Yes the local Co-Op used to have those when I was a kid. It is interesting that they seem to have died out.

            No point to make - just joining in :)

      2. Number6

        Re: Customer Service

        Yep, its almost like a challenge for their staff to throw your shopping down the checkout as fast as possible so it all piles up and then sit there tutting at you, while you try to find the room to pack it.

        I always thought that was part of the fun, proving you were good enough to pack faster than they could scan. This includes having several bags and doing some basic sorting so you know where all the frozen stuff is for ease of handling when you get the shopping home. Confuses hell out of the checkout staff in the US when I automatically start packing my own bag now. It is a lot faster than having it all checked through and then packed (usually pretty carefully) by the same person while the queue builds up.

    4. cambsukguy

      Using a checkout, what is this quaint custom of which you speak?

      Carry a beepy wand (I think that's the technical name they use) and avoid staff, price checks, queues (so far) and even wondering how much you have spent.

      Also, your shopping is in the bags ready to go, no hefting from trolley to checkout to bag-in-trolley again.

      They had them in Waitrose about a million years ago but they stopped using them although I think they may be back now there too.

      Perhaps this is the reason for the profit plummet since one of the assistants gossiped that she had checked one trolley and found it to be over £76 pounds short of the true total. "Oh, my little one was doing the scanning! I didn't realise. yeah, I'm sure".

      I imagine few people over scan so I wonder of this brilliant system will continue, it does save on checkout staff of course.

      Me, I love it, I can even bear to buy only three or four items quickly now.

    5. Friendly Neighbourhood Coder Dan

      @Deej

      => Sainsburys' terminals even says "Greet Customer"

      To make the experience even more pleasant, they could have a display for the customers that says "Start looking for your preferred method of payment now" where queues begin.

      FFS, people crawl along the checkout for a good 5 minutes, and only when all their items have been scanned they realise they need to pay for them?

      Sometimes I wonder if they usually go to shops where all their stuff is scanned purely for stock control and once they're done they just walk away with it.

  6. Anonymous Coward 101

    Dunnhumby are getting flogged, because they have nothing to say about customers that don't come into Tesco because they are too fucking expensive.

    1. PhilBuk

      Spot on. Stopped shopping there 18 months ago when I realised how sodding expensive most things were. That, combined with the shitty service means no more data for Dunnhumby.

      Phil.

  7. Amorous Cowherder

    The pair that dreamt Dunnhumby up and flogged it to TESCO are laughing all the way to the bank!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    All I want from a supermarket is.....

    ...not to get leapt at by the myriad of people wanting my money out of me.

    I get out of the car and a friendly east European guy asks if I want my car washed, then at the store entrance the AA ask me if I'm covered, then at the top of the stairs (it's a first floor one) are 2 charity collectors, then I finally get inside and there is usually one or two members of staff trying to flog this weeks money maker by telling me they can save me money (amazing mind readers). Then the on the way out, I'm greeted by the chuggers and AA again.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: All I want from a supermarket is.....

      "Then the on the way out, I'm greeted by the chuggers and AA again."

      You forgot the eastern european accordion player sitting cross-legged on the ground playing out of tune.

    2. Timto

      Re: All I want from a supermarket is.....

      You forgot the beggers at the till offering to pack your bags for you, sometimes not even asking and just doing it

  9. TheProf Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Not a great experience

    I've cut back my shopping at Tesco because:

    they 'improved' my local store and imbued it with all the charm of the security gate at an airport;

    they failed to have shopping baskets at the entrance on every other visit;

    they almost invariably forgot to add on the 'green bonus' points when I took my own shopping bag;

    they put men's toiletries and men's magazines at 'pinch-points' meaning I had to keep dodging aggressive women with lethal trolleys.

    Still not as awful an experience as my local ASDA but they have seriously lost their way. I'm always impressed with how nice Sainsbury's is.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Not a great experience

      "Still not as awful an experience as my local ASDA but they have seriously lost their way."

      Many people, including me, predicted that would happen when they sold out to Walmart. Asda is a dump inside now. It reminds me of how Netto used to look.

      1. Telboy

        Re: Not a great experience

        Many people, including me, predicted that would happen when they sold out to Walmart. Asda is a dump inside now. It reminds me of how Netto used to look.

        Will that be the same Netto that Sainsburys has just bought?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a good sign...

    "Loss of internet and data science mark the end of a period of expansion and diversion into new, non-core trading areas for the giant."

    When a retailer goes and circle its wagons, its not a good sign.

    Tesco should learn from US retailers like Montgomery Ward (Defunct) and Sears.

    Sears spun off many profitable businesses (Discover, Sears Mortgage, etc ...) ...

    Things that are money makers and are independent are being spun off as the company tries to get back to their core product and refocus. Its understandable, but it could lead to short term gains at the expense of longer term profits.

  11. Santa from Exeter
    Devil

    Tesco vs the others

    I find Tesco here far better than Sainsbury, also quite a bit cheaper. The staff in Tesco are friendly, and the customers don't give me snotty looks for my dress code not matching theirs :-) Also a lot easier since they re-introduced the 'scan as you shop' phasers.

    I now refuse to shop in Sainsbo's anyway after the way they treated my daughter in their employ.

    Lidl is okay, but there are always too few tills open for the queues.

    Aldi isn't realistically any cheaper, and a right pain to get to with a *small* car park.

    Morrison's is out of my way, and no cheaper than Tesco.

    I have refused to shop in Asda since the chicken I had cooked leaked water out of the breast when I carved it (seriously, if it's that underweight it needs a litre of pumping up - put it back!)

    The only thing I would consider buying in Waitrose is EPC horseradish since Tesco stopped stocking it.

    Horses for courses

    Icon *almost* looks like a shopping bag.

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