Technology Should Help Employees Get the Job Done, Not Stand in Their Way

New Zealand grocery company, Foodstuffs South Island, takes a unique approach in finding a new mobile technology solution.

A Zebra handheld mobile computer is used to check a shelf edge label at a Foodstuffs store
by George Pepes
September 19, 2023

Shopping should be an experience, not a task. That’s why the leadership team at Foodstuffs South Island offers a variety of experiences for its customers in many different environments — from grocery and convenience stores to large-scale supermarkets, wholesale and specialty liquor stores. It’s also why the Foodstuffs team is constantly looking at the role technology plays in its operations. No matter the venue, customer service is a top priority. (Three-quarters of APAC consumers who participated in Zebra’s 15th Annual Global Shopper Study said they were not satisfied with the in-store experience being provided by most retailers. So, those who invest in the customer experience can gain a huge competitive advantage.) 

However, it’s hard for staff to stay on top of their everyday tasks, much less keep their focus on customers, when the technology they rely on to guide their tasks isn’t reliable. 

“It’s Time” 

Like many companies, the Foodstuff’s team would love their mobile technology to last forever. That’s why they initially called Zebra years ago. They wanted a mobility solution that could withstand the test of time – and the legacy mobile computers their store associates leveraged for everything held their own for a while. But as the years rolled by and as associates took on more demands, critical tasks like locating products and taking stock counts became more difficult. With customer service being threatened, the writing was on the wall for the old tech. When company leaders decided it was time for a mobile upgrade, did they tap into the brain trust of executives in a board room to decide “what’s best” (like many companies do)? Absolutely not. They consulted with the people who use the devices the most—store employees! 

Those “on the frontline” provided great feedback and advice on what tech to buy, according to project leaders. Best of all, company executives listened.  

Thanks to their expert guidance, store associates no longer need to make frequent trips to a centralized computer in the manager’s office to get product information. They have that information at their fingertips on the shop floor while standing face to face with customers. Better yet, they have more time in their day doing meaningful tasks (i.e., the things that make customers happy, close sales and, in turn, make the executives happy.)    

If you are a retailer who has been looking for a way to seamlessly connect staff to information and each other so they can deliver the type of shopping experience that boosts customer service ratings, check out the FoodStuffs South Island’s success story. It may just inspire some ideas on how to take action in your own stores… 

New Zealand Grocer Improves Customer Service and Better Connects Staff with Zebra’s Mobile Computers 

George Pepes
George Pepes has more than 20 years of experience in automatic identification and communication (AIDC) technologies, including mobile printing and computing, data capture, RFID and the Internet Things (IoT). He has worked directly with large retail customers and channel partners in Australia and New Zealand to apply technologies in a way that reduces their operational costs, improves efficiency, increases market share and improves customer satisfaction.
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