Argos Uses Voice-based Solution in DCs to Boost Accuracy

U.K. retailer voice-enabling distribution centers; improves productivity and reduces training time

U.K. retailer voice-enabling distribution centers; improves productivity and reduces training time

London — June 8, 2005 — U.K. retailer Argos is achieving higher accuracy rates in its distribution centers by deploying a voice-based logistics solution from Voxware as part of a project to voice-enable its DCs, the solution provider announced this week.

Argos has over 590 stores in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland and sales of over $5.5 billion. The company is nearing completion of the first phase of its deployment of Voxware's flagship product, VoiceLogistics, involving approximately 200 workers at the retailer's Basildon, Mossend and Wolverhampton facilities.

The initial full rollout site, which was a brownfield site at Mossend, was cited as the best new technology start-up in Argos' history, and the Mossend facility quickly surpassed other sites in pick rates. By October 2005, Argos plans to roll out voice with Voxware further across the network.

"We've achieved a greater than 99.8 percent accuracy rate in the DCs that have deployed Voxware's VoiceLogistics, which is higher than non voice DC's," said Eddie Mcgilveray, the warehouse management system (WMS) project manager at Argos.

Productivity Picks Up

Mcgilveray added that the company has seen a productivity increase in picking through the changes in process that voice allows, which he said was "impressive, considering that labor standards were already in place." In addition, the company's training time has decreased significantly as a result of implementing voice.

Argos believes that its supply chain strategy helps set the company apart from its competitors, and that VoiceLogistics offers the opportunity to achieve greater efficiencies, enabling Argos to compete more effectively on price. In addition, Voxware said that the accuracy that Argos has achieved with VoiceLogistics means that stores are receiving the right products at the right time, which increases customer satisfaction.

VoiceLogistics also enables Argos' users to use their own languages and dialects, and the real-time data and accuracy that voice offers has decreased replenishment time and the number of replenishments made. In addition, replenishment rates are far better than when Argos was using a paper-based system.

Maximizing Voice

Work is currently underway to understand the possibilities for voice in all other aspects of the warehousing operations, with a view to maximizing the return on investment and choosing the right technology for the right operations.

"We intend to maximize the use of voice throughout the distribution center," said Mcgilveray . "As we deploy more applications, we increase the return on our investment. Thus, we fully intend to make use of idle units with other applications during off-peak times."

Voxware's corporate headquarters are in Princeton, N.J., with operating offices in Cambridge, Mass., and the United Kingdom.

Additional Articles of Interest

— The focus in the retail sector has shifted from managing the movement of goods to managing information about goods. Read more in "Ramping Up the Retail Supply Chain," in the February/March 2005 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

— For more information on the latest trends in the fulfillment and warehouse management space, see the article "The Analyst Corner: Fulfillment & Logistics" in the October/November 2004 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.