+44 (0)115 904 2777
+44 (0)115 904 2777
Retail Concession Expansion
  • 27 Jun

Global growth & retail concession expansion with Ra-X

When you operate retail stores overseas, be it solus, concession or franchise, translating your sales data to your central base is a critical process. Many retailers suffer the consequences of manual processing, and the inability to have a 100% accurate, complete view of all sales. In today’s global 24 x 7 trading environment, making key business decisions based on less than 100% of your real-time sales data is inexcusable. Ra-X, our data exchange solution, is allowing retailers to break new markets overseas with low risk, and develop concession and franchise presence, thanks to its reliability, dependability, and resilience. Here’s how our solution enabled Cath Kidston to expand their international presence, launching new stores in Asia last year.View the video on your YouTube channel here. Currently, Ra-X supports over 3,300 stores in 66 countries, and trades with more than 70 different partners. Internationally they include Alshaya, El Cortes Ingles, Bloomingdales, Karstadt, Galleries Lafayette and more. In the UK, our Ra-X customers trade within John Lewis, House of Fraser, Harrods, Selfridges, Debenhams and more. If you’re considering global growth, engaging more franchise/concession partners, retail concession expansion, opening new stores, or maximising the efficiency of your current global operations, Ra-X is for you. Our customers using Ra-X include White Stuff, Oasis, Karen Millen, Debenhams, Warehouse, Reiss, Paperchase, Mint Velvet, Jacques Vert, Coast and more. Here’s some of the key benefits they state of using Ra-X to trade efficiently:Working with international trading partners and developing better relationships: Ra-X gives you a competitive advantage due to the ease with which it operates. Removes barriers to entry: outside of the UK, retail sales are highest in China, expecting to lead sales into 2018. Are you trading in these areas? If not, Ra-X allows you make profitable decisions when it’s critical. Global growth without the associated price tag: our SaaS model – fixed cost, no capital outlay, no increase in IT headcount and no hardware/software costs – makes Ra-X the most cost-effective way to quickly gain trading information to make globally minded business decisions.Don’t wait to implement your global growth plans, drive retail concession expansion, and improve the performance of your current international trading strategy. If you require further information about how Ra-X can help, email info@retail-assist.co.uk or call +44 (0)115 904 2777.…
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Karen Millen Merret
  • 20 Jun

What does omnichannel mean to you?

Retail Assist is continually approached to support retail brands’ omnichannel aspirations and operations, but what is omnichannel? Omnichannel is a real-time, channel-agnostic visibility of inventory across the supply chain using a central stock pool, complemented by a single view of the consumer as they simultaneously shop across various channels, with the ability to fulfil demand anytime, anywhere. As supply chain software specialists, we understand that the term “omnichannel” means many different things to retailers, and so tailor our solution, Merret, accordingly. We have 21 “omniscenarios” that we can currently offer as standard. Whilst one brand may see omnichannel trading as the ability to perform operations such as ship-from-store to maximise the financial potential of stock inventory, another may view omni-ability differently in terms of what they can offer the customer: online orders returned in-store, for example. This is why we scope out our customers’ exact business requirements when they need support to implement omni. Retail Assist’s end-to-end supply chain solution, Merret, has been developed to deliver the following omnijourneys, to fit our customers’ business needs:As you can see, there are two main ordering options (online – encompassing mobile, tablet, desktop ordering; and in-store), two fulfilment options (from the warehouse; or from stores), and two delivery options (direct to the customer – home delivery; or to a collection point – for example a store). Having the ability to fulfil orders regardless of channel, due to a single view of stock, is one of the biggest benefits of Merret cited by our customers. Latest statistics from our Merret customer, Oasis, reveal that since fulfilling orders through Ship-from-Store, 20-30% incremental web sales have been achieved. Making in-store inventory available to online customers is critical to support increased demand with more opportunities to sell stock at full price – Merret’s central stock pool facilitates this, as in quadrant 1 and 2. Click and Collect also presents great opportunities to drive sales, as New Look reports: a quarter of its Click and Collect customers make additional purchases when collecting in-store. During seasonal periods, these average an extra £27 per transaction. Merret drives all of the processes you can see in the infographic, which when written out take the product through the following “omnijourneys” from point of order/sale to point of delivery:Order on Web, Fulfilled from DC, Delivered to Home Address Order on Web, Fulfilled from Single Store, Delivered to Home Address (Ship from Store) Order on Web, Fulfilled from Multi Stores, Delivered to Home Address (Ship from Store) Order on Web, Fulfilled from DC for Customer Collection (Click and Collect) Order on Web, Fulfilled from Collection Store for Customer Collection (Click and Collect) Order on Web, Fulfilled from other Stores for Customer Collection (Ship from Store & Click and Collect) Ordered in Store, Fulfilled from DC, Delivered to Home Address Ordered in Store, Fulfilled from Store, Delivered to Home Address Ordered in Store, Fulfilled from other Stores, Delivered to Home Address (Ship from Store) Ordered in Store, Fulfilled in Store…
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international help desk support
  • 13 Jun

SITS 16 takeaways: Service Desk and IT Support Show

Last week we attended SITS 16, the Service Desk and IT Support Show for industry professionals, at Kensington Olympia. It was a great opportunity to meet up with familiar faces, chat to partners and network with new ones.With nearly half of IT Professionals looking to upgrade their current Service Desk solution in the next 24 months, today’s blog brings you the latest industry insights from the show. As this year’s winners of Best Managed Service Desk at the Service Desk Institute’s annual IT Service & Support Awards, it was great to catch up with their Directors and Research team at the Service Desk Institute‘s stand. We enjoyed speaking about the latest developments in our Help Desk team and to our technology – especially App Academy. App Academy is an online e-learning platform used by our customers to learn best practice by way of our applications to increase operational efficiency. As noted in the SDI’s latest benchmarking report, self-service usage has increased to 81%, and so is a valuable tool for our Help Desk customers to increase their knowledge and self-deliver simple fixes. As a forward thinking business, invested in the quality of our service delivery, we would highly recommend entering the SDI Awards. The awards process really helped us to identify our key areas for development, part of our continuous improvement process that is embedded in our team’s DNA. As well as complementing our improvement, the Awards have played a key part in our Help Desk culture, providing the team with a huge boost. The Award is a well-deserved recognition for their work in supporting the leading UK retail and hospitality businesses worldwide. Here are some of our key takeaways from the Expo:Customer SatisfactionDid you know that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships without ever interacting with a human? This notable statistic is research from Gartner, shared by Hannah Price from TOPdesk UK in her seminar on customer satisfaction metrics. With interaction on the decline, it’s more important than ever to engage your customer in the most relevant way possible, and customer feedback is one of the most important assets any business can tap into. That’s why we’re committed to sharing the results of our Help Desk customers’ feedback, in order to show where we’re improving based on their experiences. In summer, we’re holding a Help Desk Advisory Board with one of our most high profile hospitality customers, a leading UK coffee chain, in order to truly understand how they use the service, and how we can develop together to support their business objectives. Top 3 takeaways for a successful customer satisfaction survey? 1) Time it right – avoid busy periods, as these solicit a poor response rate 2) Talk the same language – avoid jargon and make questions easy to answer 3) Spread the good news – communicate the survey results to encourage a proactive culture and inspire confidence in the serviceInnovation, innovation, innovationThe message from many industry experts and service…
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Gen Z
  • 6 Jun

Gen Z vs Gen X vs Gen Y: Shopping Habits Survey

For the purpose of this blog and infographic, Gen Z refers to those aged 14-21, Gen Y 22-35 and Gen X 36-55.  Generation Z. Born post-1995, in the age group 14-21, they’ve proved a difficult bunch to define; previously upcoming ‘influencers’ within the retail and hospitality market but now with new-found buying power and a disruptive influence that makes them the most lucrative market to target. They’re switched on, price conscious, and hyper connected to their surroundings – including social media and technology. They want it now, they won’t wait, and have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips ready to influence their buying decisions. After researching Gen Y and Gen X shopping habits last year, Retail Assist’s latest survey has revealed some critical information regarding Gen Z shopping habits, and debunked some common myths that might surprise you… Here are our top 5 takeaways from the survey:The high street is not dead for Gen Z, with 58% of respondents choosing this as their favourite method of shopping. Click and collect is not popular with Gen Z: 61% have never used it. Nearly three quarters of Gen Z don’t have their favourite retailer’s app installed on their smartphone. 73% of Gen Z would made a purchase due to a social media recommendation. When shopping, 84% of Gen Z make it a social activity, i.e. a part of their day out, lunch/coffee/cinema.Please feel free to share the following full infographic of our findings.Analysis So, of the Gen Z-ers surveyed, what surprised us here? High St reigns supreme. Thought Gen Z was all about the online experience, clicks over bricks, and ecomm dominance? Think again. 58% of those we surveyed prefer to shop on the High Street, the highest percentage of any generation, compared to 40% of Gen Y and 48% of Gen X. Analysing the practical reasons behind this: not many 16y/os have online spending power – unable to transact online without a debit card, most shop with cash. With a lack of patience and a desire to acquire fast fashion “now”, the high street is also the best place to do so with no waiting for deliveries and the ability to take the product literally straight off the shelf. ‘Appy shoppers? Not for Gen Z. Although Gen Z admit being glued to their smartphones, 74% of them do not have their favourite retailer’s app installed. There are subtleties to be considered with Gen Z: just because they browse for products on their smartphones and devices, this doesn’t mean they desire an app to complete a purchase. The reason? Many of this age range don’t have big enough data contracts on their phones to support multiple app downloads. Instead, they prefer to use their devices to browse social media in order to discover more about product ranges.   What was concretized? Social media addiction. Gen Z idols are YouTube stars, vloggers, and Insta-famous fashionistas. They live in constant “FOMO”, fear of missing out, especially when something new is…
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Project Management Services
  • 31 May

Project Management Services: How can we help you?

Our Project Management Services are a valued part of Retail Assist’s business model. This blog is dedicated to explaining real life scenarios in which we could help support the success of your business change projects, whilst taking the pressure off your internal teams to deliver. 1 – Growing your store estate in the UK or internationally? As with last week’s blog post on “Going Global”, more brands are approaching us with international requirements to trade overseas, including opening stores outside of the UK. As part of our Project Management Services, our dedicated Store Systems and Store Development specialists and Project Managers can deliver store openings, store closures and store refit programmes. All opening activities are scoped, coordinated and carried out, from hardware and software roll-outs, to providing communications infrastructure in-store through our trusted partners.Our team have spent many years working in retail and hospitality operations and in-store IT, which means they have the experience necessary to ensure stores open on time and on budget. Comprehensive project planning ensures minimal disruption by working around key trading periods, to ensure no downtime and no lost sales. We provide managed support of retail & hospitality technology infrastructure for new systems roll-out, with installation of retail systems by industry experts for the smoothest transition.Over the last year alone, we have managed store opening and relocations for major brands such as Oasis, Warehouse, Karen Millen, and Mint Velvet across the UK and in international locations as diverse as France, Sweden, Denmark and the USA! Oasis’ new flagship on Tottenham Court Road (worked on by our Store Development team) has been very well received by consumers, press and the industry alike.2 – Planning to invest in new systems, but don’t know where to start? New POS? New tablets? New supply chain? Bringing in an expert is often the most efficient way to make well-reasoned business critical decisions, and our independent consultancy services are designed with this in mind. Our expert project specialists craft bespoke RFIs around your business requirements, carrying out a detailed analysis of the systems marketplace to deliver you the best results. Leaving you to focus on your daily retail business practices, Retail Assist will carry out:Creation and management of a requirements document sent out to potential suppliers. Evaluation of supplier responses; cost comparison, and management of supplier demonstrations. Presentation of shortlisted results and recommendations.With 17 years’ experience of evaluating, implementing and supporting a wide range of EPOS solutions, Retail Assist was recently selected to independently manage the selection process for a leading British lifestyle retailer’s new EPOS requirement. Commenting on the project, the IT Director said: “Throughout my career in retail, I have worked with Retail Assist on many key change management programmes of this nature. We needed a partner to independently manage the selection of a new EPOS solution; a trusted partner who could understand our business requirements and translate them into a thorough RFP process that would ensure we found the right solution based upon the…
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international retail
  • 24 May

How to overcome the challenges of international retailing?

In an omnichannel retail world, brands are experiencing a demand to break local borders, interacting with and selling to customers around the world, anytime, anywhere. When you open stores overseas, be it solus, a concession or franchise operation, you might face challenges translating sales data back to your central database in real time, and in a 100% accurate manner. We can help you to break new markets with low risk, at low cost: Ra-X, Retail Assist Exchange, is our global data exchange solution developed for international retailing. Ra-X is a 24×7 monitored solution, ensuring that your sales data comprises the entirety of your estate.Case Study A few years ago our customer, Cath Kidston, wanted to open shop in Asia, still one of their biggest markets. If Cath Kidston makes a sale in one of their Japanese concession stores, Ra-X translates the sale, product and price data, and exchanges the information automatically, back into the standard format. This all happens in the cloud, meaning there’s no costly hardware required to set Ra-X up, and no need for maintenance of in-house systems. The sales information from Cath Kidston’s partners is then fed back in a standardised format, meaning data for global sales is 100% accurate – a critical requirement for profitable global retailing. Ra-X is allowing retailers to break new markets overseas, and develop concession and franchise presence, thanks to its reliability, dependability, and resilience. Want to know more about our solutions? Check out the following webpage: http://www.retail-assist.co.uk/our-solutions/ , or email your query to info@retail-assist.co.uk    What else to consider when expanding internationally? Retailers need to understand how much consumers are willing to pay for each product, in order to stay competitive in local markets. Our zonal pricing model removes manual processes, effortlessly dealing with different currencies. Multi price zones are auto maintained and synced using a zonal conversion factor. Understanding where consumers are buying and how much they are willing to spend is equally important. For instance, online retail sales are highest in the UK, China, Finland, Norway, South Korea, and Denmark; and are estimated to lead sales into 2018. [Source: eMarketer] International partners should also be a consideration when thinking about concession and franchise expansion. We work with over 60 partners, including Alshaya, El Cortes Ingles, Karstadt, Bloomingdales and more.   Check out our weekly blogs for more retail, hospitality and technology insights. Or contact us here if you’d like to speak about any of the solutions we provide above.…
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  • 16 May

AI and adoption

At Retail Assist, we understand the importance of always having one eye on technology, in order to stay ahead of the curve. We’ve been researching the latest developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to bring you our opinion on consumer adoption of AI.In the news recently, we’ve noticed that the makers of Apple’s iconic digital assistant, Siri, Dag Kittlaus and Adam Cheyer, have released a new AI platform, Viv. The key difference between their “next generation” tool and other AI platforms is that it isn’t constrained by service provider, i.e. Siri for Apple, Cortana for Windows. Being cross channel, it can “speak” in a device agnostic manner to vendors and third party suppliers in order to provide the most relevant information based on the request, i.e. to purchase relevant goods at the cheapest price. When shown at a demo in New York, the audience was impressed by the complexity of questions Viv could answer. Viv responded to sophisticated questions such as: “Will it be warmer than 70 degrees near the Golden Gate Bridge after 5PM the day after tomorrow?”, and was able to execute more personal queries that demonstrated a more intimate knowledge of its user, for example “Send Adam 20 bucks”. You can see Viv in action here:With any new tech development, we should have the end user in mind – so, what about AI adoption? Last year, in a product statistics release, Apple revealed that Siri receives 1bn requests a week: a big number, but one that might not stack up so well when we consider that Apple has just over 1bn active devices in operation. In addition, what percentage of those users really rely on AI/digital assistance technology daily? When you look at the simpler commands performed by Siri, it appears to be a non-complex, one-way conversation.Something else to consider here is that if AI like Viv is to be adopted, cognition is the key. Viv seems to come close when handling the complexities of each query, many of which don’t follow the same patterns. But, we are still largely a nation of individuals wanting to share the experience with someone that understands us – who can respond well to frustration in our intonation, rather than an automated customer service model. This is a concept understood by Google, who are apparently teaching their own AI tool by feeding it a diet of romance novels to make its bots more conversational. Hopefully it will be more successful than Microsoft’s embarrassing public Twitter storm caused by its AI tool trial, Tay, which “learned” offensive and racist language from its audience of online users. One thing to learn from Tay, is that whilst technology is neutral, people are not, which makes cognitive computing a very difficult balance to strike. A Samantha rather than a Siri? To round off this piece with a reference to Spike Jonze’s 2013 film Her. In a not-so-far-off future vision, a lonely male writer (Joaquin Phoenix), develops an emotional relationship with his new operating…
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Project Management Services
  • 9 May

Are Hospitality tie-ups the way forward in Retail?

In a market driven by consumer demand, brands are working collaboratively to create powerful customer experiences. Experience and “theatre” have long been a talking point in retail as well as hospitality due to their power to engage and encourage dwell time. In 2016 the retail non-food sector is expected to grow by 2.8% (source: ONS), representing a huge opportunity for brands to invest in improvements to their offering. One of our customers, fashion retailer Oasis, has recently been heralded as a poster-child for retail-hospitality tie-ups, when relaunching their flagship on Tottenham Court Road last year. The end result was a retail store centred on experience rather than on product, boasting an in-house cafe-cum-cocktail bar (Saucer & Spritz), and beauty salon (Pin & Polish).Aside from transmitting the brand identity through different mediums but with a unified form, what Saucer & Spritz and Pin & Polish help to achieve is turning the retail experience into one of leisure. In today’s time hungry world, customers need to be given a reason to visit the store when you can buy the product at your fingertips – physically going to the store for a different experience than that with which you are presented online. Hospitality presents reasons to return to the store that transcend the fashion product – true engagement with the brand. Hospitality offerings in retail units also promote dwell time. Want to mull over that high ticket item purchase, or discuss it with a friend? Instead of turning the customer back out onto the street or shopping centre, with no space in which to make this decision, promoting that the customer stays within the store presents more opportunity to sell stock at full price. From Costa in Next, to Starbucks in Selfridges, what both sectors service is a consumer demand for great customer experience – no matter if it’s purchasing clothes or enjoying a drink. Our IT Help Desk, located at our Head Office in Nottingham, is the hub that powers customer engagement with big name brands across 8,000 global locations. Did you know how many places you visit on a day out are supported by Retail Assist’s Help Desk? On a typical day out, see how your customer experience is supported by us in different retail and hospitality outlets, with this “Big Day Out” infographic. Morning coffee, shopping, cinema, a meal out: our Help Desk has it covered 24x7x365.We play a behind-the-scenes support role for all the brands featured here and many more, to ensure that their IT systems are supported for optimum performance; enabling them to provide the best experience for their customers. Our Help Desk supports all aspects of retail and hospitality environments, from the front of house POS to the back office systems, including examples such as Oasis Tottenham Court Road mentioned above. Retail Assist’s Project Management Services and store development teams were also used during Oasis’ refit project to manage the deployment of new comms and IT systems during the store build and roll out –…
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maximise stock availability
  • 2 May

Roundtable Discussion II: Personalisation and getting the message right

Here’s the second instalment of our Roundtable discussion, featuring our team’s insights and opinions on personalisation in retail. If you want to know exactly what personalisation is, check out our blog post. In the last Roundtable video, we discussed that striking the correct balance with customers in-store can be a tricky task for retailers, given that a face-to-face personalised experience is fairly new to consumers. In this video, we discuss how personalising online still requires sophistication regarding targeted marketing. What are the opportunities afforded by big data? Do attitudes to sharing information differ between generations (Gen X/ Gen Y/ Gen Z)? And what about the different profiles you might use online (work/domestic)? These topics and more are covered in our short discussion.   You can watch the full video on our YouTube channel here.…
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Maximise stock availability
  • 25 Apr

Maximise stock availability with Merret

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been outlining the key benefits of using Merret to drive efficiencies in your omnichannel retail processes. As well as facilitating a single view of stock, explained here, our omnichannel supply chain solution is helping retailers to maximise stock availability. At a time when the customer demand requires fulfilling across all channels with the same availability, 24 x 7 x 365, having an agile inventory and flexible stock pool to fulfil orders is essential, to avoid customer dissatisfaction. For example, one way in which Merret maximises stock availability is its central stock pool’s ability to use in-store stock to fulfil orders from different channels, as well as stock in the DC. This prevents frustrating out-of-stock situations online, when the item may in fact be hanging unsold on a rail in a store. This process is also known as ship-from-store, explained here in an infographic. Merret has been developed to offer practical benefits when deployed on tablets in-store, enabling store staff to carry out omnichannel processes when on the shop floor with responsive, modern technology. For a more detailed look at Merret Tablet Inventory and its benefits in action, watch the solution used in-store with our customer, Karen Millen; Karen Millen went live with Merret early last year. You can watch the full video on YouTube here.The flexibility the solution gives to store staff is invaluable. Without being constrained by fixed terminals or clunky hand held devices, still able to walk the shop floor and interact with customers, store staff can do the following through Merret Tablet Inventory, as mentioned in the video:Process Inter branch transfers, create, send and receive Receive stock from the warehouse Progress write on / off transactions Undertake a stock-takeCarrying out these processes as soon as they require actioning, in response to real-time sales data, Merret allows a freer movement of stock that is 100% visible and accurate, helping maximise stock availability by placing it where it is needed most. In this way, more profitable business decisions are made and actioned. Retailers can then fulfil more orders, and sell more stock at full price. Interested in how our retail IT solutions could facilitate more efficient omnichannel retailing across your brand? Simply fill out this quick contact form and a member of our Sales team will be in touch, or call our Head Office on +44 115 904 2777.  …
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