Intermec aids the modernisation of Coop retail outlets

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The Swiss Coop Group is supporting location management for its retail outlets with the aid of the CN50 mobile computer from Intermec. The national roll-out of almost 1500 devices has taken place with superb support from Zetes autoID Systeme AG.

The Customer

The Coop Genossenschaft, including all its subsidiaries, currently employs approximately 78,000 people. The group has expanded rapidly in recent years: The Coop Group owns supermarkets, warehouses, restaurants, DIY stores, pharmacies, filling stations and convenience stores. The 'coop@home' online shop allows customers to order products from the Coop range for home delivery.

Furthermore, it also owns two home entertainment chains, a furniture store, a specialist lighting retailer and perfume and jewellery stores. Since January 2011, the Coop Group has been the sole owner of the Transgourmet Group. As a result of this takeover, Coop now records annual turnover of around CHF 28 billion. Since the beginning of the last decade, when a SAP system was introduced to replace the existing stock management system, the 1,400 or so retail outlets across the country have had high performance hand-held hardware, which can be used to access the key functions of the SAP solution. Mobile computers are used on-site to check goods in, manage stock and to check the 'ideal stock' – the desired minimum stock levels on the product shelves, so that no ugly gaps can be seen and the goods are always available to customers.

The Challenge

Since 2005, Coop has been using the CN2 mobile computer from Intermec. After more than half a decade of use, Coop decided in the summer of 2010 to add state of the art CN50 mobile computers, in addition to over 5,000 CN2 models currently in use to support its sales outlets. Old mobile computers were exchanged for new ones, especially in particularly busy branches and warehouses.

The used devices are still in operation. Around 500 devices were used as extras in smaller branches, while around 400 CN2 models now make up the device pool at the Coop Setup centre, where they are used as replacement devices.

The group takes very seriously the responsibility for sustainability throughout the entire value creation chain, there is no throwaway culture. They even found a clever solution for the old device mounts: The docking stations from partner company Doli Elektronik were altered while the entire infrastructure behind them was left unchanged.

Partner & Technology

The contract for implementing this project was awarded to Zetes autoID Systems AG, based in Dübendorf, Zürich. The Zetes Group, which is active throughout Europe, has its headquarters in Belgium and is currently represented by subsidiaries in 14 countries.

The group employs more than 1,000 people. As in 2005, the new hardware came from Intermec, a Zetes partner company: the new Intermec CN50 is a mobile computer with 3.75G mobile communications technology, which combines small size and light weight with a robust design. A bright, 3.5 inch QVGA display ensures good legibility, even in direct sunlight.

The CN50 is equipped with a Bluetooth® v2.1 EDR module, which ensures a secure and reliable connection to headsets, mobile printers and other Bluetooth devices. The 'bundle' for Coop consists of IT services and skills from Zetes combined with the Intermec hardware – and there were two other hardware competitors who left emptyhanded.

"We received a very compelling offer from Zetes," stressed Beat Pfister, Head of WW Processes/Sales at Coop AG and the project manager responsible.

The Solution

The implementation of the project was started quickly. After configuration of the hardware in Coop's own IT centre in Kloten, a complete replacement of all devices was carried out by Zetes staff in selected Coop branches. The Coop Service centre always informed the branches of the imminent replacement in advance. Employees were also provided with brief information on how to use the new devices via the Intranet. "In definitive terms, it was a great advantage to us that these new devices worked in a very similar way, so that branch employees were already very familiar with how they functioned," explained Pfister. As yet, no questions at all have been raised regarding how to use the devices.

Something that sounds so simple was nevertheless a challenge for the specialists from Zetes: to ensure that everything remained the same for the users, a non-hardware dependent software tool had to be used to ensure that the same user interface and the same applications could still be used. Furthermore, a real-time clock had to be added and the manufacturer, Intermec, also made small alterations.

Zetes has also provided an extensive troubleshooting service and with the final roll-out created an image of the basic requirements to ensure smooth integration and continuing operation of the current solution. After the quick on-site exchange of devices, the new technology was fully usable in each branch after around 30 minutes. However, after every 'replacement on the fly', the specialists from Zetes were also available to deal with any questions or problems: as an Intermec repair centre, Zetes can quickly replace any damaged hardware. Coop branches are immediately given a replacement model – and only then is the repair undertaken. Zetes also acts as a kind of cornerstone between the Coop IT centre and the Setup centre and provides a point of contact for both sides which can be on-site rapidly in an emergency thanks to its regional distribution. This provides Coop with the security that everything will work smoothly in the future.

Why Coop opted to work with Zetes and chose Intermec hardware can be summarised in a few sentences by project manager Beat Pfister: "In addition to the clever bundle of hardware and services, the physical proximity of Zetes was also valuable. What's more, we have also worked successfully with them in the past.

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