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  • 21 Dec

A Christmas Wish and Charitable Gifts

As the year draws to a close, and we reflect on another great year at Retail Assist, our thoughts turn to those who are more vulnerable at Christmastime. For two years now, our chosen charity has been Emmanuel House, a homelessness charity based in Nottingham City Centre. The charity provides invaluable services and support to those who are homeless or vulnerably housed in Nottingham. Founded in 1976, Emmanuel House welcomes between 60-90 visitors each weekday and 30-50 on weekends. This equates to almost 2000 visits a month, with approximately 200 new visitors each year, all of whom have complex and multiple needs. Having recently launched their ‘Cup of Kindness’ winter appeal, Emmanuel House is hoping to raise £40,000 to be able to provide visitors to Emmanuel House with food, drink, shelter and support. Last year, we donated half towards the total cost of Christmas Day at Emmanuel House. On Friday, we held a Christmas fundraising day across all our UK sites – Nottingham, Northampton, London, Stanton Harcourt – including a Christmas raffle, desk decorating competition, fuddle and Christmas Jumper Day, and have raised £1000. It’s great that this beats our fundraising total last Christmas, as we raised £750. Our Chairman, Alan Morris, said that: “Whilst we enjoy the Christmas festivities at this time of year, it’s more important than ever to remember the spirit of giving, and including those in our thoughts that are most vulnerable. With no statutory funding, Emmanuel House relies on donations, allowing the charity to continue to provide their amazing services and support to the homeless and vulnerably housed in Nottingham. Contributions will help to make a real difference on someone’s Christmas Day, in the form of a hot meal, a safe and friendly environment, and people to share the festivities with. That’s what the Cup of Kindness appeal is all about.” Here’s some photographs from across our sites, of the fundraising activities we have been up to!     …
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  • 14 Dec

NRF 2016: See you there!

As the year draws to a close and we look to the New Year, we start to plan our annual visit to the National Retail Federation’s Show and Expo in New York.It’s just a month to go until the NRF Expo, Retail’s BIG Show 2016, taking place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in NYC from Sunday 17th January – Wednesday 20th January 2016. The Show brings great opportunities to see the latest innovations in retail technology, and network with faces old and new. If you’re attending, and would like to meet up whilst in New York, please get in touch with us. We’re looking forward to arranging meet-ups with other retailers and suppliers, so just click here to schedule time to meet with the Retail Assist team. This year, we’ll be sharing our NRF experiences to bring you daily content: the best technologies and solutions from the Expo hall, interesting insights from presentations and discussions, and our opinions on the top retail trends to look out for in 2016. Make sure to look out for our live video updates, which will be published on our blog, and social media feeds. And remember to search the Twitter hashtag #nrf16 to follow the latest trends and innovations from the Show. See you there!…
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discount december
  • 7 Dec

A discounted December?

The verdict’s out on Black Friday, as this year’s sales figures are in. But did the event meet our predictions and expectations? It looks like our Black Friday research (featured here on Notts TV at 1:37) was correct. Online vs High St Online spend was up 36% year on year, smashing previous records by topping £1.1 billion sales on Black Friday. Online sales across the four day weekend, including Cyber Monday, amounted to a whopping £3.3 billion. It was a different story on the high street, however, as footfall fell 4.5%, a slump blamed not only on the “damp squib” that was Black Friday, but also due to the strong online offer provided by many retailers. In this sense, Black Friday definitely failed to provide high street fashion stores with the required boost in November, with sales down 4.9% year on year, following on from a similar October slump. So, why did consumers choose to purchase online, opting for shopping via ecommerce rather than bricks and mortar? Perhaps the mayhem that gripped the nation’s headlines last year acted as a deterrent to those hoping to shop in-store.Something that definitely stood out from last year is the drawn out nature of the discount period. It was a well organised, pre-Christmas shopping event rather than one manic day of unprecedented demand and unfulfilled expectations. Discount mentality Is there much that retailers can do in the battle to protect margins, in the face of the current consumer demand for discounting? 60% of shoppers time their purchases around sales (Conlumino 2014), a mentality that is harming retailers’ sell through of full price stock. If December is anything to go by so far, we’re still seeing extended discounts under different names: Cyber Monday Hangover, Manic Monday, Festive Frenzy… It’s interesting that the connotations of discounting still concentrate on the “flash” sale, despite deals being stretched out to prevent demand concentrating on days like Black Friday. Something retailers need to consider is the amount of returns they’re getting, and the need to process these with great efficiency. What’s the use of having an item “out of stock” on your website, or in-store for that matter, when said item is being returned, and could be being sold at full price? This is a cyclical process that needs to tighten up. Now more than ever, it’s critical for retailers to have 100% visibility of all stock, across all channels. We can help – just visit our dedicated Merret page to learn more about omnichannel supply chain efficiency, or get in touch with us here.    …
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  • 2 Dec

Christmas Gift Guide for Him 2015

What to buy the man in your life for Christmas 2015… Our Marketing team has been out on the High St compiling the perfect Christmas Gift Guide for Him, featuring our customers. You can also watch our Christmas Gift Guide for Her here.1) White Stuff Pyjamas, £25 T-shirt, £35 Bottoms 2) White Stuff Washbag, £15 3) Reiss Coat, £295 4) Reiss Cashmink Scarf, £45 5) Paperchase Recipe Book, £15 6) Paperchase Tablet Case, £12 7) Cath Kidston Baby All-in-One, £32…
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christmas gift guide for him
  • 1 Dec

Christmas Gift Guide For Her 2015

Now that December’s here, it’s a great time to make your Christmas gift purchases! Wondering what to buy your Mum for Christmas 2015? Or maybe the best Christmas gifts for your girlfriend? Our latest vlog features Top 5 Christmas Gifts for Her (& more!), complied on the High Street and featuring our customers. Make sure to look out for our Christmas Gift Guide for Him tomorrow!1) Oasis Tabby Tasseled Bag, £34 2) Oasis Grey Bow Slipper, £14 3) White Stuff Annabelle Bobble Hat, £17 4) White Stuff Cut Work Floral Apron, £16 5) Cath Kidston Champagne Glasses, £15 6) Cath Kidston Baby Knitted All In One, £32 7) Paperchase Apples & Pears Medium Scrapbook, £10 8) Paperchase A6 Week To View Diary, £6 Don’t forget to check last posting dates for Christmas to ensure your gift arrives on time for the big day.…
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  • 27 Nov

Black Friday vs Cyber Monday 2015

What are the best Black Friday deals 2015? All prices correct as of 3pm GMT on 27/11/2015 It’s the question on everyone’s minds today as Black Friday officially kicks off. After searching the web, like 70% of fellow online Black Friday shoppers, we’ve rounded up our top 5 Black Friday deals below: 1) Nutribullet Debenhams are offering the popular Nutribullet juicer & blender at £69.00, thats a 30% discount off the usual price of £99.00. Blenders have made a popular appearance back in the home, and would make a perfect Christmas gift for that New Year health kick.  2) Apple iPad Air 16GB For the Apple lover, this iPad air is a tablet steal. Reduced from £319 to £259, the impressive £60 reduction is also available with Clubcard Boost points.  3) Sony Play Station 4 500GB Argos has delivered Black Friday discounts for a couple of weeks already, and this PS4 deal is no exception. At £199.99, TechRadar have called it a “superdeal”. Great for the gamer in your family.  4) Canon EOS 1200D Digital SLR Camera For the snap happy consumer, you have to snap up this great deal from Amazon: the Canon EOS 1200D is now £219, a 45% reduction from its previous price of £399.99.    5) Shoppable windows Not technically a “deal” as such, but we had to mention House of Fraser’s augmented reality innovation. They’ve introduced “shoppable windows” this Black Friday, connecting the in-store and online experiences as a great example of omnichannel retailing. Consumers that are window shopping can scan the window vinyls, which will automatically direct their device to their Black Friday deals featuring on HoF’s website. This might appeal to shoppers who don’t want to face the queues today, but enjoy the experience of shopping physically.You can read the full story in Retail Week.   Have you bought anything this Black Friday? Want to share your experience? Just post it in the comment box below.  …
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Black Friday
  • 23 Nov

Black Friday 2015: the countdown is on

The countdown is on: Black Friday is just 4 days away. New figures released this morning by Visa Europe predict that Brits will spend £1.9 billion on Black Friday 2015: that’s £83m every hour, £1.4m every minute and £23,000 every second. It’s already been a turbulent start at either end of the spectrum: shock news of Asda’s veto 2 weeks ago was followed by retailer uncertainty regarding participation. Then, last Friday, Argos’ deals launch was tarnished by an embarrassing website crash (again).Oops… Now more than ever, it’s essential for retailers to prepare fully for the festive season, to ensure that even at the busiest times, trading is uninterrupted by issues, and the customer experience remains seamless. Black Friday and the birth in discount mentality has meant that retailers no longer experience a steady stream of Christmas trading. 60% of shoppers time their purchases around sales (Conlumino 2014), a mentality that is harming retailers’ sell through of full price stock. This October, sales fell year on year, as consumers “hold off” for November. After Black Friday, there’s now a lull – 62% of shoppers we surveyed use Black Friday to buy Christmas gifts, leaving a smaller stream of Christmas shoppers in early November and December. The store still plays a critical role in the festive shopping experience, and as well as a robust ecomm platform to cope with unprecedented demand, the same measures need to be taken in store.Take queueing, for example: did you know that 40% of consumers won’t queue for longer than 2 minutes, and 51% refuse to even enter a store if they see a queue? At Christmas, increased demand means a busy store is inevitable, but making customer service more efficient should be a number one priority. Till down-time and queueing are real but avoidable issues, if you have the correct service provision in place. Our Help Desk experts are experienced in front line retail service, and understand the true impact of issues such as systems downtime at peak periods. Our 24×7 IT and technical support facilitates greater systems uptime at point of service, critical for any brand, any time of year. Great customer service is not just for Christmas. You can download our How To Guide: Preparing for Peak Trading, tomorrow. To opt in to receive it by email, just hit the subscribe button at the top of this page.…
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Black Friday 2015
  • 16 Nov

Vlog: Is the Black Friday model a sustainable approach to UK retailing?

In a shock turn of Black Friday events, retail giant Asda announced it’d be pulling out of this year’s proceedings. Arguably, as the Walmart-owned brand that first introduced the annual US tradition to the UK in 2013, Asda’s decision to refrain is a bold one. But, as our Head of Marketing explains in today’s vlog, is crippling annual Black Friday demand a sustainable model for UK retailers? Will others persevere with fulfilling customer expectations for mega discounting? Or will more retailers shy away from Black Friday?…
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selfridges oxford street
  • 9 Nov

The changing role of the retail flagship: part II

As a development of our first retail flagship blog, we wanted to analyse current flagship redevelopments in retail, and what this might say about the contemporary in-store shopping experience. Oasis Our customer Oasis has undergone a flagship relocation project, from the recently refitted and latest store design ‘House of Oasis’ on Argyll Street, to a new concept store on Tottenham Court Road. The new flagship opens this week, in time for the run up to Christmas.The store complements an innovative shopping experience totalling 3,200sqft, with an in-store café, prosecco bar, and hair & nail salon – the first of its kind in the UK. Hash Ladha, chief operating officer at Oasis, said the new concept was designed to increase customer dwell time in-store “by giving shoppers a full customer experience”. The redevelopment is definitely concerned with providing more than just a shopping experience, offering leisure-focussed spaces that reflect the nature of the brand. Sipping a coffee and getting a manicure is an extension of the brand profile, ‘something Oasis customers might be’. The refit and opening process of the new store is being managed and supported by Retail Assist’s in-house Store Systems and Store Development teams. You can read more about our specialist retail IT support and project management services here. Selfridges Selfridges is another example of the ‘big London flagship’ working wonders in the lead up to the key Christmas selling period. Being the first store to unveil their iconic Christmas windows this year, their annual Destination Christmas concept is visually stunning, playing on an astrological zodiac theme to embody a ‘Journey to the Stars’. No wonder the department store was crowned winner of Retail Week’s Top of The Shops. It’s no mean feat on Oxford Street, with tough competition where visual merchandising is concerned.Selfridges’ flagship still functions as the pinnacle of the brand’s identity. It’s as relevant now, as it was in 1909. As Selfridges’ Managing Director, Anne Pitcher, said in a recent interview with Retail Week (4:30): “It’s most importantly where we celebrate our DNA, and unify our creative themes from that customer experience of looking into the windows, coming into the store, and seeing great themes reflected throughout the building.”Jaeger However, evidence that a traditional, large flagship store in London might not work for all brands is evidenced by Jaeger’s latest move. Last week it was announced that their flagship on Regent St, which has been occupied by the luxury British brand for 80 years, is soon to be taken by US lifestyle brand, Coach. Colin Henry, former Chief Executive of Jaeger, previously explained in an interview with Drapers that a smaller flagship unit would be better aligned with Jaeger’s brand identity: “In modern day retailing I don’t need a 27,500 sq ft store. It’s like a department store; we have to generate so much product to fill it”. As Jaeger looks to invest more in its online strategy, the move away from a larger flagship also falls in line with its ecommerce…
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retail IT support
  • 30 Oct

Halloween 2015: will retailers be spooked by demand?

With recent estimates stating UK Halloween sales are expected to reach £460 million for retailers this year, seasonality is evidently still a big win for retail brands. Pumpkins, witch hats, trick or treat provisions: no doubt you’ll have had a panic dash to your nearest shop to purchase one/all of the above this week. We wanted to find out more about consumers’ purchasing habits and general plans for the Halloween period, so in true Retail Assist style, we’ve conducted a survey and produced an infographic of our spooky findings:Where will consumers be shopping?Supermarkets took an overwhelming majority when it comes to Halloween purchasing habits; keeping their title as the “go-to” stores for Halloween shoppers in search of costumes and treats. 67% voted for supermarkets as their preferred place to shop Halloween items, over the 33% of people choosing fashion retailers. Retail Week’s recent survey also noted that supermarkets came out on top last year, with 38.3% of costume purchases made at a supermarket in 2014. Sadly for independents, nearly three quarters of people source their pumpkins from a supermarket, rather than from a traditional pumpkin patch.What will consumers be doing? Our survey shows that most people plan to watch a scary film this Halloween, which is great news for our customer Vue Cinemas! Are you brave enough to watch the new Paranormal Activity instalment? 53% will be sitting down to a scary film, whilst 28% will be attending costume parties, and 19% having a night out. The hospitality industry will definitely experience a burst of activity this weekend. So, what will people be watching behind their cushions tomorrow evening? Hocus Pocus stormed ahead, taking 34% of the votes as people’s favourite Halloween film. This proves that classic cult films retain popularity: perhaps we could do with a new Halloween classic to be released! To find out more about our work with Vue, just visit their dedicated page here. For more information about how our Help Desk supports their cinema estate, you can also request a case study. With busy trading expected, our Help Desk teams are gearing up to support our customers from day to night, with a smile, 24 x 7. Have a Happy Halloween, from all at RA! Pumpkin credits to our Contracts Manager, Rumyana Topliyska!   …
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