Note: Following a rebranding exercise Zetes’ logistics execution solution using voice technology is now called ZetesMedea Voice (formerly 3iV Crystal). All features and functionalities remain valid.

Gary Barr, IT Director at Morrisons, explains the importance of working with reliable partners

What are the main challenges facing Morrisons today? How well equipped are you to deal with them? 

Gary Barr: Morrisons operates in an intensely competitive market, survival is tough and we are up against extremely good companies. Grocery is more insulated from the recession than other sectors but we work hard for every Pound that goes through our tills.  

In a recent interview your new CEO Dalton Phillips referred to the benefits seen throughvoice picking in your warehouse, can you tell us more about this? 

Gary Barr: During my career I’ve been responsible for many IT implementations and in terms of user acceptance, the voice system from Zetes was definitely the easiest to roll out. There was absolutely no resistance from the business, it was a great project and delivered immediate benefits. Voice quickly drives down costs, we have seen efficiency and productivity increase beyond expectations and now pick stock with much higher accuracy.  

What other IT projects is Morrisons currently implementing?  

Gary Barr: We’re currently replacing all the IT systems in our business under the Evolve Programme. Within this programme, every system in our warehouses, manufacturing operations, plus back office technology supporting finance, marketing and in the stores, is being upgraded. So far, we’re roughly half way through and the supply chain optimization initiative is well underway. Our objective is to equip the business to deliver on its brand promise of being the freshest and best value for money.

Still with an eye on delivering quality to your customers, which qualities do you expect from your own suppliers?

Gary Barr: There are three things that customers expect from Morrisons – freshness, value and service - and I extend that principle to the expectations we have of partners. In this case, the freshness relates to innovativeness, the ability to suggest new ideas and ways of using technology to improve our competitive position. We are always looking for value, and operate within tight profit margins. So from a supplier perspective, we expect the same and seek help in developing business cases for investments. Lastly, with service, well inevitably things go wrong from time to time, but 11 million consumers effectively depend on our complete infrastructure. We deliver a great service to our publics and expect suppliers to ensure we continue that.  

You recently evaluated your suppliers. What can you say about the work Zetes has done for Morrisons? 

Gary Barr: A business the size of Morrisons has a lot of suppliers and it’s important for us to understand which ones are most critical. Over the past year we have been grading suppliers according to how strategically important they are, with a 1 score being a key partner like Zetes, down to a 4, a commodity supplier. During this process, we outlined expectations of suppliers and shared with them our perceptions of their businesses. Zetes has been responsive, embracing the process wholeheartedly, which is very pleasing to see and characteristic of their dynamic culture.  

In the past you've referred to Zetes as a strategic technology partner, which is a great accolade for us. Can you explain the importance of this? 

Gary Barr: The nature of the relationship with IT suppliers is different to that of other providers. Each organization is closely inter-linked and the supplier not easily replaceable. In effect, our success depends in many ways on Zetes’ success as a company, so managing a good working relationship is very important. Morrisons’ supplier evaluation programme ensures that we continue to mutually deliver value and can benefit equally from the partnership.