The Co-operative Group has rolled out wireless handheld devices to improve service.

It has spent around £6.5m on 6,500 Elf handheld terminals, which will be used in 2,800 food stores to balance tills, check stock gaps, print scannable barcodes for reduce-to-clear items and for scan-as-you-go shopping.

“The new Elf handheld devices are helping transform the way our store staff work,” said Co-op head of IT retail solutions Steve Bond. “These new systems are not only helping our stores run much more efficiently by speeding up the processing of a number of different tasks, they are also freeing up more time to enable our food store colleagues to concentrate on customers’ needs.”

The new terminals have been issued to almost 1,500 food stores, with the remaining 3,615 terminals going live in May. The devices, which use Windows Mobile 6.5 and have QWERTY keyboards, will supersede a variety of older kit.

They are also compatible with The Co-op’s store-based ordering system SMART (Store Merchandising and Replenishment Transformation), which has also speeded up day-to-day tasks.