Enhances Efficiency and Customer Service with Touch Computers from Zebra Technologies

Founded in 1904, Waitrose operates over 300 supermarkets and convenience stores in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, and is part of the John Lewis Partnership. The John Lewis Partnership is the UK’s largest employee-owned business and the parent company of two highly respected and loved retail brands – John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners – which are owned in trust by over 80,000 Partners.


Waitrose used a number of devices in its stores to manage tasks, from stocktaking and e-commerce orders to click and collect, and more. As these were coming to end-of-life, it saw the opportunity to move to a single multifunction device (MFD) to help manage these tasks. Also, it had a new initiative in place called ‘Working Flexibly’ – a programme to help partners work across the store rather than specialising in one area. With this in mind, Waitrose looked for a mobile computer that would equip Partners to manage all tasks and quickly surface any information they need to help customers.


Waitrose reviewed a range of mobile computers, assessing key criteria including screen performance, battery life and customisation. But most important was the view of its Partners. Their positive feedback on the familiarity of the AndroidTM operating system, and how quick and easy it was to get the information they needed, led to the selection of the Zebra TC51 enterprise-grade touch computer and a pilot programme across 16 sites. Zebra’s team worked in stores during this programme to assess solution performance, which provided invaluable insights about efficiencies and roadblocks.

Waitrose’s IT team also endorsed the TC51, valuing the fact it is supported by Zebra Mobility DNATM. This range of enterprise
tools, utilities and software makes it easier to deploy, manage and maintain the TC51s. The tools were essential when it came to porting applications that had previously run on Windows® to Android. The project team used StageNow to help easily load applications to each device (with a scan of a barcode) and DataWedge. DataWedge ensures that captured data is formatted and transmitted to the right applications, without any modification of existing applications.

Waitrose also streamlined some apps. For example, the best elements of the four apps used to answer customer queries were merged into one. And the home screen was configured to the most-used software, including branch stock management and click and collect.

To smooth device roll-outs, a change management programme was implemented. In each store, a senior manager oversaw cultural change, and managers were tasked with helping colleagues use devices. On the day of ‘go live’, each store was supported by the project team. A range of metrics to assess performance were tracked on a dashboard. It was not until targets had been met that a store was signed over from the project team to the line of business that now oversees the MFD programme.

To support the devices, Waitrose has a Zebra OneCareTM services agreement in place, fulfilled by Computacenter. In addition, SOTI® MobiControl has been deployed to remotely oversee each device.


The implementation resulted in cost savings from areas such as simplified device maintenance and lower repair costs.

Operational benefits add up too, with Partners no longer losing time searching for devices or walking to phone points.

Turning to the experience for customers, many variables impact this. With product information in hand, associates are easily able to find information for customers. What’s more, as the e-commerce picking application is on the device, Partners can offer alternative ideas if an item is unavailable.

Feedback from Partners is positive. The TC51 has customisable buttons to operate the most-used apps on its left and right sides. This means that a button can be dedicated to scanning for both left and right handed Partners. And, because the TC51 is so flexible, new applications are being supported. For example, Partners who are hard of hearing can use headsets, and the use of text-to-speech applications has been rolled out.

Looking forward, the devices are protected by LifeGuardTM, a component of Mobility DNA, which provides security updates and patches for the lifecycle of the TC51s. And, with the protection of the OneCare support service offering a predictable view over costs, Waitrose has the stable and flexible mobile computing platform in place that it set out to deploy. In fact, it expects to add new features to the platform as it finds new ways to improve the in-store experience both for its Partners.

“Our Partners love and appreciate the TC51s. They’re helping to improve customer satisfaction levels too. We were one of the first European retailers to move to a true multifunction enterprise device and, with our close relationship with Zebra, we continue to share ideas and inspire one another to think about the future of mobile computing within retail.” Glenn Cox, Product Owner, Waitrose & Partners and customers.

Article Credit: https://www.zebra.com/content/dam/zebra_new_ia/en-us/solutions-verticals/vertical-solutions/retail/success-stories/retail-success-story-waitrose-extended-en-us.pdf