A "first-person grocer" may sound silly, but consider a typical software dashboard—nothing but numbers and acronyms. Even if a problem flashes red, it still takes time for a manager to identify what the numbers mean. Ocado's system uses analytics to flag any efficiency problems in the 295,000 square foot distribution center; the game graphics are then used to render views of the problem. Like Kroger with its self-checkout tunnel, Ocado built this system itself, because no vendor offered the type of software it needed for DC management. No word on whether Ocado, like Kroger, plans to market its homegrown system to other E-grocers. (Or maybe just polish it up and sell it to video gamers. If they'll buy baseball and auto theft, there's gotta be a market for warehouse operations.)
Flashy customer-facing technology is fine, but it's nice to see a retailer giving employees something shiny to look at, too. U.K. online grocer Ocado is now using what looks like a 3D animated video game to give managers a better view of highly automated warehouse operations. Managers can "fly through the warehouse and see what's happening in bright video-game-like colors," a Bloomberg report said.