Zetes puts Voice into Argos stores

Zetes, the pan-European provider of solutions and services for the automatic identification of goods and people announces it has implemented a voice directed put-away solution within 130 Argos stores, to enhance operational efficiency in the back of store area.

This is reportedly the first time any retailer, either in the UK or mainland Europe, has used voice in-store as a quick and easy way to speed up the put-away process and operate a more flexible, customer driven stock room. Since introducing the voice solution, Argos has seen significant process improvements through reduced time to the final sale point.  Previously stores needed to put away products within each cage and then release the products for sale.  Now individual items are released for sale as soon as they are put away - on shelf literally means on sale, says Alan Jeffries, Head of Store Operations at Argos.

Argos began working with Zetes on a proof of concept pilot to validate the business case for the initiative in 25 of its stores, which took place during the peak trading period of 2008.  Following this, Zetes were awarded the first phase of the integration contract and were subsequently successful in achieving the project objectives within half the original time forecast - a rate of 15 stores going live each week.  As a result of this performance level, Zetes has been appointed to lead a company-wide roll-out to all Argos 740 stores.

Depending on their size, Argos stores can receive up to 2 daily deliveries.  The company is using voice technology to notify delivery assistants of where to store each product in their back of store warehouse.  Working in this innovative way has been proven to improve Argos put-away process efficiency by up to 24%.  Voice technology has also enabled Argos to introduce line positioning in the stock room, allowing complete flexibility over the layout with fastest selling products to be stored closest to the customer collection points.  The technology also means smaller stores have the ability to stock a greater variety of products because items can be shelved anywhere and easily retrieved without the need for delivery assistants to have detailed stock room knowledge.

The in-store voice solution being rolled out by Zetes for use by the delivery assistants will comprise the Zetes' 3iV application software and supporting management tools, and Vocollect's T5 Talkman computers, VoiceClient and VoiceConsole software. Comprehensive support and maintenance is being provided by Zetes as part of the Zetes Care solution.

Zetes is Europes largest integrator of voice solutions.  The company has now completed over 800 voice implementations, which equates to over 60% of all live projects, supporting an installed base of over 45,000 users. Today, more than 250,000 distribution centre workers worldwide depend on Vocollect Voice technology.

Zetes won the Argos contract because they offered a completely open, hardware agnostic and flexible solution configuration, combining both dedicated voice and voice assisted working options.  In addition they were able to offer the benefits of tight integration with both Argos existing in-store system and their business intelligence repository, coupled with full onsite hardware and software maintenance.

We selected Zetes for this project because we wanted a supplier who had a proven track record with voice technology and whose software application give us the flexibility of an open approach which did not commit us to a specific hardware vendor, says Nick Skilbeck, Programme Manager at Argos.  In Zetes we believe we have a supplier able to future proof our investments and provide ongoing access to all the latest application and technology developments in the wireless and supply chain arenas.

Gary Glessner, EMEA VP and Managing Director for Vocollect said, Zetes and Vocollect, working in partnership, will be supplying Argos with the very latest in voice technology applied to the in-store environment, a significant new growth area for voice applications. The solution will help Argos achieve improvements in efficiency and accuracy that fundamentally affect their bottom line, helping them gain competitive advantage

James Hannay, Senior VP for Northern Europe at Zetes said The voice put-away solution means Argos can be more agile, both in terms of designing the stock room layout around the fastest moving product lines and also in the way they can manage their resourcing requirements.  Staff will be easier to train and recruitment can be more flexible because the delivery assistants need to have less prior knowledge. 


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