Global Economics

Tesco.com Taps GPS for Drivers' Handhelds


Tesco.com is coming up with new uses for the handheld devices that help its drivers to deliver home shopping orders without getting lost.

The retailer rolled out the devices - combining the delivery scheduling system and a satellite navigation package - to 50 drivers operating from its South London dot-com store in March this year. The store delivers to a big chunk of South London so the drivers are often in areas they aren't familiar with.

Tesco.com's developers worked with ALK Technologies and Microsoft to deploy the system in 12 weeks.

As well as guiding the drivers to where they need to make the deliveries the devices handle the delivery process, taking the customer's signature and handling product substitutions and returns.

Jon Higgins, IT director of Tesco.com, said: "The handheld device is a big time-saver for them because previously all that would have happened on paper. With the mobile device all that happens automatically so there is a big productivity saving for them."

Combining the two applications in one device means fewer gadgets for the drivers to worry about and streamlines the delivery process.

Higgins told silicon.com: "They only have one device instead of two which they would have to juggle and they don't have to type in the postcodes [of customers] into the sat-nav."

Using one device also means there isn't any expensive hardware left in the van while the driver is making deliveries and, as the satellite receiver dome is on the roof of the van, even if one of the devices was stolen it would be useless to the thief.

Higgins said the next step is to add more functionality: "One of the next things we are considering doing is integrating a mobile phone into the device so that's one less thing for them to juggle."

The company is also reviewing other areas where the devices could be useful - for example whether the devices can be used to give customers better information on when their groceries will arrive such as alerting them via text message when the van has left the store.

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