Spar tests hand-held store management

Spar, the UKs largest UK convenience store chain, is trialling new ways to help store managers to gather stock and store management data.

Selected store managers are using hand-held terminals featuring an information dashboard, as part of a solution supplied by global information technology solutions and services company, Episys.

The project is a proof of concept aimed at improving store management and is part of Spars Operation Excellence, a series of business improvement and legal compliance projects which aim to increase the retailers competitiveness.

Roy Ford, Spars IT Controller, said, Episys was chosen because of its track record in mobile data, particularly its mobile point of sale work at Woolworths and its strong relationship with Nordic ID, which supplied the hand-held devices.

Spar is always looking for more efficient ways to gather store data. Spar store managers are required to report regularly on the state of their stores, a range of measurements including availability of stock, store cleanliness, fridge temperatures. These reports are normally done on paper which can be time-consuming and at times, inefficient. Spar needs news ways of proving that these tasks are being done and on time.

The trials involve store managers using Nordic ID PL3000 hand-helds with PDA-size screens measuring 2.5 x 3.5 inches, accessed using their store code. Ford explained, Store managers can report on critical operational factors such as availability of fresh foods and top selling items, and upload the information directly to the back office, enabling Spar at the centre to get the information it needs to drive replenishment.

Ford added, In addition, if adopted across our store estate, we hope the system will enable us to health check our stores because we can use the data to make comparisons between stores.

Peter Lewis, Director of Marketing at Episys, said, The take up of mobile technology among retailers is accelerating as they recognise the huge operational benefits from having information to hand anywhere in the supply chain. We believe the Spar project is a template for convenience store management.

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