Implementing Google Apps for Work has helped Waitrose grow sales, improve customer service and boost collaboration between staff, it was announced this week.

The upmarket grocer – along with sister company John Lewis – introduced the technology in 2014 and the supermarket has now rolled out the tool to 340 stores and 65,000 employees, saying it has improved communications across the business in terms of how employees interact with each other and with shoppers.

Viewed as a cultural shift by the retailer, the new way of working now sees Waitrose staff share files through Google+ and Google Drive – including Docs, Sheets and Slides.  According to tech services company Cloud Sherpas, which helped Waitrose with the implementation process, it would have previously taken hours or even weeks to plan rotas and workforce management, but this can now be coordinated within minutes.

Cheryl Millington, IT director at Waitrose, commented: "When you replace your email and calendar system, it's quite high risk because it touches everyone in the business, so I was quite nervous about making the transition.

"It was really important to us that this was a smooth transition. Cloud Sherpas' knowledge, patience and ability to roll out the technology in a way that was engaging for our business teams really made a difference."

Speaking last year at the official opening of Waitrose's new Swindon store, which is trialling various tech innovations, Millington said her key goal from using new technology centres on boosting efficiency. She also expressed the importance of developing technology that fits with the Waitrose brand and its customers, saying it was about "agile and iterative development".

"There's a huge amount of change in retailing, brought about by evolving customer shopping patterns," Millington added this week.

"Customers are reaching out more, shopping more frequently, buying less and embracing new technology. This has meant we've had to think about our business differently."

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