Last month I reported on the virtual subway store from Tesco. This month they’ve add more to their arsenal of innovation in the supermarket war.

Rather than taking snapshots of food while waiting for the subway you’ll soon be able to ‘walk’ around a virtual supermarket thanks to Facebook’s Oculus Rift. Figure Digital have released a concept video showing what this might look like.

However, Tesco are not only relying on these breakthroughs to bring its store of the future into reality. In March Tesco held its first hackathon which is where teams of computer developers gather together for 24-48 hours to develop new and innovative solutions to real problems. It’s reported that about 40 people took part across 10 teams.

‘It allowed us to get all the ideas from the developers’ minds on the table very quickly,’ says Tesco digital media manager Andrew Williams, who helped stage the event. ‘There are so many people across the business, especially in dotcom, who have so many things they want to try out, but are restricted by the day job and have little spare time.’

What does this mean for you as a retailer?

Hackathons are exciting for the tech industry yet the Oculus Rift’s virtual store still seems like science fiction. Neither hackathons or virtual supermarket are adding profit to your business right now so why should you care?

Well the news of Tesco’s hackathon is good news for you, and I’ll explain why. They’re focused on innovation and creating solutions for real world problems; in this case retail problems. The winning teams quite often gain funding to then implement their ideas further. In time this means software and technology that will provide real solutions for your store.

And, Tesco’s isn’t the only company creating hackathons dedicated to retail. John Lewis and Asos have also held their own.

With more resources and innovation being encouraged in retail technology we will see real improvements that aid the way your business runs. Similar to the improved predictive sales algorithm that came out of Dunnhumby Ltd’s hackathon that aids retailers predict what their future sales will be.

It will be interesting to see where the next couple of years takes Tesco in their big push for technology; and if they manage to build a consumer ready virtual store.