Tesco In-store Personal Shoppers to Use Tablet PCs to Pick Online Orders

LONDON - Tesco, the United Kingdom's largest food retailer, is upgrading the order-picking and fulfilment processes of its online shopping arm with a wireless smart tablet in-store solution from mobile computing specialist Xperience.

In the multimillion-dollar deal, Xperience will equip 300 of Tesco's largest U.K. shops with at least 5,000 pre-imaged Xybernaut Atigo tablets. Alongside this, Xperience will provide on-site and off-site maintenance to the deployed panels, as well as a full support process.

The Atigo-driven cart-mounted computer system seamlessly integrates wirelessly with Tesco's existing Windows 2003 server technology, to ensure that Tesco's personal shoppers get the right customer order information at the right time.

"Our pickers like it because it is fast, compatible with existing systems, and has a clear, bright screen display," said Mike Yorwerth, head of operations and infrastructure for Tesco.com. "From an IT point of view, it suits our needs perfectly in that it is tough and intelligent and can easily be integrated into our existing technology. We were particularly impressed, for example, by the way that its XP embedded nature removed the need for time-consuming and costly rewriting of our existing .net applications."

Each transaction made on the Tesco.com Web site is logged on the company's central server farm, which then relays this information to the shop nearest to the postcode specified on the order's delivery address. Once an order has been downloaded to a shop's local server, it can then be split into logical picking groups.

These elements are then downloaded to the individual cart-mounted Atigo units for picking, according to the customer's requested delivery time. Intelligent enough to coordinate several customers' shopping lists at any one time, the system will allow a team of personal shoppers to fulfill multiple orders simultaneously.

Personal shoppers will be guided through the store, following on-screen prompts for items and their locations. An attached bar code reader will allow them to scan picked items into the system and progress to the next product on the list. Once this has been completed, the cart can be returned to the back of the store, ready for the order to be delivered.

As a Windows XP embedded system, the Atigo enables Tesco to use the Microsoft.net development environment. Furthermore, the system's combination of long battery life, high memory (Transmeta Crusoe TM5800 1GHz Processor, 256MB SDRAM, 256MB Flash Memory, 512MB Optional) and bar code reader make it easily able to withstand the demands of in-store life.
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