Tesco Marketplace Now Partly Live – Already Showing Signs of Flaws
Tesco have soft launched the redesigned Tesco Direct website with two “Marketplace” sellers and guess what…we’re already seeing that there has been little learned by looking at the core rival Amazon.
The Tesco marketplace have two merchants live on the platform already, Crocus & Maplins and its the latter merchant that is making it clear that Tesco haven’t really worked out that Data is the life blood of an eCommerce business just yet.
Product Page – Tesco Owned Item
I’ll be back to that topic in a few moments, but for now lets have a drill down of the features of a 3rd party item and a Tesco owned item. There are going to be a few comments I’m not going to make, the reason is sat in the previous articles here regarding the Tesco Marketplace.
To the right is a screen shot highlighting some key points on the product detail page, if you click on the image it’ll open in a full sized window or you can view the live item here.
My first observation is the catalogue number, its base ten and not base 36.
If I’ve lost you already let me explain. We work in base 10 from 0 to 9 (that’s our fingers which caused that), base 36 is from zero (0) all the way to Z, so numbers and letters.
Why’s that important? Base 10 has a very low number variations for products, well in fact 7^10 = 282,475,249 possible variations. Yes that’s 282 million variations, but we’re dealing with products and as they are potentially opening the platform up to 3rd parties, then 282 million SKU’s is nothing given enough time.
A quick flip to Amazon’s ASIN’s (ASIN’s are Amazon’s unique identifier for each product, see here) and an example is B005890FU. Taking this to the ultimate limit of ZZZZZZZZZ in base 36, this is normal numbers from 0 to 9 is 101,559,956,668,415 or 102 Trillion variations give or take a few million for rounding :).
102 Trillion V’s 280 million = No comparison
Lets go a little deeper for a moment, if I’m loosing you from the above section, this one is even more important. The product identifiers have a hyphen between them. In the case of the TV above the catalogue id is “210-7084″.
But what importance could an hyphen have? It means it’ll be parsed as a text string by a 3rd party system. If we count 1, 2, 3 etc… it makes sense, counting 210-7084, 210-7085, 210-7086 does not because they’re’s a hyphen in the way. So a sub function that splits or removes the hyphen needs to be run, the number value then incremented and then inserts the hyphen back in.
That’s one way of doing it, it can be done with regex & other methods, but my point is, its an unnecessary and a carry-over from the catalogue side of Tesco.
After that, the rest is mustard.
- Titles that overflow the navigation
- Customer reviews (nice)
- Primitive bullet points
- Poorly formatted descriptions
- An ugly specifics table
- Half hearted cross selling
- I love the orange add to cart button, I really do. Have you tried green though?
- And my last note, look at the top right, the wording has been added “Buy from *”, which changes between Tesco and the 3rd party merchant. But where is the link?
Wonky Product Data
My point however is picking on one SKU, of which I assure you that if you cross compare the data between the two sites, its not alone. Take a look at this item on Tesco Direct. A screen shot is below.
Can you see the issue?
Not spotted it yet? Take a look at the item from the Maplins site here. Look at the picture and read the title. Yep, that’s a purple product and a black title.
Tesco Seller Stores & ClubCard Points
I really like the idea of buyers being able to obtain “Club Card” points with 3rd party sales, there is a dedicated “Sellers at Tesco” page that you can read over here.
I also like the fully customised store landing pages for both Maplins & Crocus, screen shots are below and if you click on them, it’ll take you to the pages:
But to deliver this to a wider audience, that needs back-end tools in place and even Amazon have not even come close to the ~£81.4M that eBay take from eBay Shop owners every year in the UK alone and the eBay Shop is one of the most poorly supported product eBay have.
By the way if you think that number is obscene, I added up the USA & international eBay Shop revenues, you better brace yourselves for that in a later article, I did fall off my chair.
I’m going to leave this article at this point. Mainly because if I continue I’ll edge on the negative side and we’ve got to be fair here, Tesco have made a good crack at it so far with picking two unrelated merchants, even if one is odd and the other has data issues.
If let unchecked, then the Tesco Direct marketplace for Tesco is quickly going to go down the pan as far as duplicated & inaccurate data is concerned. To a data freak this is alarming, but to be expected and I frankly did not expect it so early. It’s a nightmare/plague/cancer on Amazon with duplicates and just indicates that the process to check data needs some work.
The grape-vine has already spilled that discussions have been made with 3rd party software providers a long time ago. So lets run with a hypothetical question here.
- What would you pay to gain access to the Tesco customer base?
For both commission on sale & would you consider a start up fee?
You can let me know in the comments box below.