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Delivering The Midcounties Co-operative a new platform for Mobile Stock Management.

The Midcounties Co-operative (TMC) is one of the largest independent Co-operatives in the UK covering Food Retail, Travel, Energy, Funeral, Childcare, Flexible Benefits, Healthcare and Post Offices.
As a long-standing customer, Trust Systems has deployed and supported TMC’s network and WiFi capabilities. With our breath of expertise in retail combined with our strategic partnership with applications provider WonderLane, we have recently supported The Midcounties Co-operative’s store optimisation strategy with the deployment and management of our Mobile Stock Management Solution.

The Challenge

We catch up with Andy Tonks, Programme and Solutions Manager and Edwina McHugh, Store Support Program Manager from The Midcounties Co-operative, to discuss the requirements of the business and how the Trust and WonderLane partnership is delivering an integrated benefit-rich solution utilising digital, mobile and cloud technology.

Andy explains, ‘We had various challenges which led us to implement a Mobile Stock Management solution. Firstly, our current equipment was out-of-date and coming to end-of-life with the need to renew support contracts. Secondly, stores were reporting to us that the current kit was not fit for purpose and frequently falling over. We also wanted to improve the management of stock as savings in this area deliver high levels of return. All these factors provided the springboard to open our doors to the marketplace. And that is exactly what we did.’

The Solution

Andy continues to explain, ‘There are many providers of a ‘Stock Management’ type application in the retail space. To help shortlist providers we asked a number to pitch ‘Dragon Den’ style. As an existing technology partner providing our Network and WiFi, we contacted Trust Systems who we knew had a strategic partnership with WonderLane, a retail software company. We asked them to present what they could do for our retail estate. Following the Dragons Den stage, we shortlisted potential partners including Trust and WonderLane, and two other solutions to run a proof of concept (POC). The deployment of a handheld device with a Stock Management application critically needed to integrate easily with our system InControl.’

The Project 

‘At the POC stage only one solution was functional in the time frame requested, that was the solution from Trust Systems and WonderLane. Obviously, this stood them in good stead, but there were other vital components to our selection process including:

  • User onboarding – the feedback from our in-store colleagues was extremely positive, many were ecstatic with the proposed new solution.
  • Integration with InControl – Trust and WonderLane demonstrated a deep understanding of this along with offering a solution that managed this easily.
  • Robust – the last thing we wanted was a solution that fell over or didn’t prove secure.’

‘Trust and WonderLane ticked all these boxes and we began to deploy their Mobile Stock Management Solution on a Zebra Hand Held Device (TC52) to our food retail estate.’

Benefits

Edwina explains, ‘Initially we rolled-out to 12 pilot champion stores followed by a full roll-out across our store estate in just 2 months. When we embarked on the roll-out and user deployment it was clear from the start that Trust Systems understood how to deliver a roll out across multiple stores. As we learnt more from the deployment and requested changes inflight, the Trust Systems and WonderLane team managed these and continued to deliver on time, on budget and a solution which our users were delighted with. Everything was delivered when they said.

‘The application itself has enabled our food arm to digitalise a paper system. This has not only dramatically streamlined our operations, improved our in-store colleagues experience, but also met our environmental agenda of reducing paper across the Society. From a management perspective the solution has ensured accuracy and validity of our stock holding which delivers vast advantages to the organisation.’

‘Key attributes of the solution include shelf management, queue busting, member sign-up, wastage, inventory adjustment, financial stock take, deliveries and the devices link to a mobile printer to print shelf-edge labels.’

‘The application works on Android and emulates the functions of a phone providing an intuitive and easy to use solution. For example, easy scroll and swipe functions. Users have raved about the reliability of the solution and the ability to have everything they need in one place, including member sign-ups. This is helping our colleagues service our customers.’

‘We have found that the time to carry out a ‘gap scan’ has radically reduced, the scanner even scans through freezer doors making the whole process easier. The ‘gap scan’ then creates a digital pick list which again has simplified the process and reduced our use of paper.’

‘As a managed solution Trust pro-actively monitor and manage the solution for our stores offering a field service team where needed.’

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