SOURCE: Vocollect

Vocollect

Vocollect

December 10, 2009 08:00 ET

Zetes Puts Voice Into Argos Stores

First European Retailer to Use Voice In-Store, Improving Put-Away and Stockroom Management; Enables Argos to Introduce Line Positioning and Benefit From Greater Efficiency, Space Utilization, Cost Savings and Improved Service Levels

LONDON and PITTSBURGH, PA--(Marketwire - December 10, 2009) - Zetes, Europe's leading provider of value-added solutions and systems integration based on 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 the first time any European retailer 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 stockroom. 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,'" said 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 was awarded the first phase of the integration contract and was 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 of Argos' 740 stores.

Depending on their size, Argos stores can receive up to two 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 percent. Voice technology also has enabled Argos to introduce line positioning in the stockroom, allowing complete flexibility over the layout with the 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 stockroom knowledge.

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

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

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

"We selected Zetes for this project because we wanted a supplier which had a proven track record with voice technology and whose software application would give us the flexibility of an open approach, which did not commit us to a specific hardware vendor," said 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, Inc., 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 to 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 stockroom 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."

About Zetes

ZETES INDUSTRIES (Euronext Brussels: ZTS) is a leading pan-European company in the value-added solutions and services industry for Automatic Identification of Goods and People (Goods ID and People ID). Zetes uses both emerging and mature technologies (barcode, voice recognition, RFID, smartcards, biometrics), and develops Solution Architecture Frameworks to optimize the business performance of many customers in many market segments: manufacturing, transportation, logistics, retail, healthcare, finance, telecommunication, government and public services. The Zetes group has its headquarters in Brussels, with subsidiaries in Belgium, Germany, France, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. Zetes currently employs more than 800 employees and generated consolidated revenues of EUR 178 million in 2008. More info: www.zetes.com.

About Home Retail Group

Home Retail Group is the UK's leading home and general merchandise retailer with sales of £5.9 billion in the last financial year. It sells products under two distinctive and complementary retail brands, Argos and Homebase. The Group employs some 53,000 people across the business. Argos is a unique retailer recognized for choice, value and convenience. It sells over 18,000 general merchandise products for the home through its network of over 700 stores, online and over the phone. Argos' Internet site, www.argos.co.uk, was the most visited high street retailer online in the UK in 2008. Homebase is the UK's second largest home improvement retailer and is recognized for choice, style and customer service across the wider home enhancement market. It has more than 300 large, out-of-town stores, which sell over 30,000 products, as well as a growing Internet offering at www.homebase.co.uk. Argos and Homebase are supported by an in-house financial services business, Financial Services, which provides a range of credit and insurance products to their customers through all customer-facing channels of stores, online and over the phone. Financial Services is one of the largest store card providers in the UK, having over one million active store card customers.

About Vocollect

Vocollect, Inc. is the number one provider of voice solutions for mobile workers worldwide, helping customers achieve a higher level of business performance through voice. Every day Vocollect enables over 250,000 workers worldwide to distribute more than $2 billion dollars' worth of goods from distribution centers and warehouses to customer locations. A global team of over 2,000 supply chain reseller and channel partner experts support Vocollect Voice offerings in 55 countries and in 26 languages. Vocollect VoiceWorld Suite integrates with all major WMS and ERP systems, including SAP, and supports the industry's leading mobile computing devices. For more information, visit www.vocollect.com. Vocollect®, Vocollect Voice®, Talkman®, VoiceClient®, VoiceConsole® and Vocollect VoiceWorldSuite™ are trademarks of Vocollect, Inc. All rights reserved.

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