Waitrose is equipping workers with headsets that will allow voice-activated picking in its warehouses.

Under the new warehouse management system, workers are given instructions via headphones, which they then confirm by replying into a hands-free speaker. The system uses software supplied by RedPrairie.

Waitrose said use of the headsets increased picking accuracy and would ultimately help improve product availability in stores.

“We have been working on updating our warehouse management system over the past two years and are confident the option we selected will provide a modern infrastructure to support our growth plans,” said Waitrose programme manager Nick Webb.

Waitrose trialed the system in its fruit and veg and chilled warehouses in Aylesford, Kent. It will be rolled out shortly to the site’s ambient warehouse, followed by the new RDC in Leyland this summer, and other depots next year.

“The outcome at Aylesford has been very positive so far ,” said Webb. It is the first time Waitrose has used standardised warehouse management across its business.