Woolworths deploys 890 iPads for 'happier' store managers

The supermarket chain has given store managers across the country 3G-enabled iPads to reduce the time they have to spend doing tedious administration work in back offices.
Written by Spandas Lui, Contributor

Supermarket giant Woolworths has rolled out Apple iPads to its 890 store managers across the country.

Woolworths ran an iPad pilot program with 90 area managers 12 months ago to resounding success, and last week decided to go ahead with a wider implementation program, as first reported by The Australian.

One of the biggest time wasters for Woolworths store managers is administration tasks, such as back-end reporting and stock management. Previously, these were performed through desktops in back offices.

The third-generation 3G-enabled 16GB iPads, deployed on 17 August, have been filled with bespoke applications that allow store managers to do those tedious administration tasks as they roam around their store floor.

Woolworths estimates that this will save 20 per cent of store managers' time per week, and will improve customer satisfaction, because the managers will have more time to help the customers, which will translate to "millions" in savings.

"The whole reason for doing this, is a well run supermarket has a happy store manager. There was a lot of frustration with the amount of time store managers were having to spend at the back office," Woolworths spokesperson Kristen Young told ZDNet Australia. "We just want to make our store managers happier."

While most of the apps were developed in-house through Google Apps, Woolworths did team up with Cognizant Technology to develop Tap for Support, an app that simplifies the process for calling in maintenance help at the supermarket's store fronts.

Hardware was supplied directly by Apple, while Optus is the network provider for the 3G iPads.

Optus also worked with Woolworths to implement a mobile device management (MDM) tool, to make it easier for the supermarket to push app updates and remotely wipe devices once they are lost.

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