VONS TO STREAMLINE TRAINING WITH SATELLITE-BASED SYSTEM

ARCADIA, Calif. -- Vons Cos. here will streamline its training process using two-way satellite communications that link a centrally located instructor with employees out in the stores.The retailer is rolling out a hardware and software package that gives an instructor real-time remote access to each employee participating in a training session. Employees out in the stores will be provided with special

ARCADIA, Calif. -- Vons Cos. here will streamline its training process using two-way satellite communications that link a centrally located instructor with employees out in the stores.

The retailer is rolling out a hardware and software package that gives an instructor real-time remote access to each employee participating in a training session. Employees out in the stores will be provided with special devices that allow them to respond to the instructor's questions through a keypad or the unit's built-in microphone.

Vons, which originally used its satellite network only for one-way corporate-based transmissions, is now for the first time able to set up a direct interactive link between a central broadcast point and multiple stores.

The new system, which is currently in use at 11 Vons stores, will eventually be rolled out chainwide, Doug Hendrix, a company spokesman, told SN.

"It makes our satellite system complete," he said. "Not only are we able to broadcast to a [store] site but we're now also able to get feedback from that site. It allows us to have interactive learning."

Vons said its new system could reduce the amount of training time needed for store employees and managers, adding that in many cases, training sessions that previously consumed two days could be completed in one day.

Having a two-way satellite link "enables us to reduce the cost associated with training," he said. "Instead of having to fly people to one site for training, we're able to do training at multiple locations and reduce travel-related expenses."

The interactive training units are from One Touch Systems, San Jose, Calif.