Zetes were engaged by Argos to implement a voice directed put-away solution within all the retailers’ stores in the UK, to enhance operational efficiency in the back of store area. This is 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 put-away processes and operate a more flexible, customer driven stock room.
Note: Following a rebranding exercise Zetes’ logistics execution solution using voice technology is now called ZetesMedea Voice (formerly 3iV Crystal). All features and functionalities remain valid.
Since its introduction, Argos has seen significant process improvements through reduced time to 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.
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 way has improved 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 stored closest to 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 is based on Zetes' 3iV application software and supporting management tools, and Vocollect's T5 Talkman computers, VoiceClient and VoiceConsole software. Comprehensive support and maintenance is provided by Zetes as part of the Zetes Care solution.
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.”
Ultimately, 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 in the way they can manage their resourcing requirements. Staff are easier to train and recruitment can be more flexible because delivery assistants need to have less prior knowledge.”