Morrisons is giving its staff tablets as it overhauls its technology systems

Morrisons is to replace its historic paper and pen ordering system by giving store staff tablets.

The tablets are being rolled out currently with all stores moving onto the new system by the end of the year.

CFO Trevor Strain told The Grocer today the tablets had been successfully trialled at the end of last year and said that the new system still allows store managers a certain degree of autonomy over what they sell in store and stock levels.

The system has been designed to make ordering easier and reduce the amount of potentially expensive mistakes.

“What we will have done when it is completed at the end of the year is leapfrogged an entire generation of tech”

Dalton Philips, Morrisons

The move comes as part of the retailers’ Evolve systems upgrade programme, which CEO Dalton Philips described as a “radical evolution” rather than a big bang. Philips said Morrisons was the only retailer of its size in the world still making up orders using pen and paper.

By year end Morrisons will have spent £310m on systems upgrades, introducing Oracle across the business under the Evolve programme and which according to Philips is a key factor in making the retailer fit for the future.

“This is the most advanced building of technology systems in the world,” said Philips. “What we will have done when it is completed at the end of the year is leapfrogged an entire generation of tech.”

Philips said the frailty of Morrisons’ systems when he arrived in the business restricted the amount of stores it could operate and even the type of promotion it could run in-store. “In many ways it was our Millennium Bug,” he explained.

Philips explained that although Morrisons has hit tough times in the last couple of years, its recent tie-up with Ocado – which will see it launch online grocery in January – and its aggressive convenience store push along with the systems upgrade would put Morrisons on the right path.

“Conditions remain tough and this sector is very competitive,” said Philips. “But we have a new team and are firmly focussed on driving the business. By 2015 we will be where we wanted to be when all these strands come together.”