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Burberry Regent Street Flagship
  • 28 Aug

Could a retailer’s flagship be its own website?

Last week we read an article on how the role of the flagship store is changing, and were pleasantly surprised to see a number of Retail Assist’s customers featuring in this post by Retail Week.Our customers have some exceptional flagship stores, mainly located in London. Selfridges is the poster child for this, being the second largest shop in the UK and hosting a plethora of designer brands. However, it seems some of our retail customers are breaking the mould of a ‘typical’ flagship store. A flagship is the retailer’s preeminent store, designed to showcase the brand and market itself to draw in consumers. With in-store technology becoming ever more prominent, the flagship boasts its most impressive technological devices and original ‘feng shui’ to create an unforgettable customer experience. Earlier this year, Oasis reopened its London Argyll Street flagship, focusing on tech and customer experience. The Oasis flagship creates in-store theatre, presenting a digital family tree wall behind the escalators, featuring moving framed portraits. Behind the cash desk there are digital windows that show a looped video of a meadow on a spring day, followed by clouds unleashing a downpour of rain. The men’s waiting area at Oasis’ flagship is known as the ‘library’, where people can sit, relax and read a book. Burberry’s flagship on Regent Street seamlessly blurs the physical and digital worlds. Burberry on Regent Street uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) for interactive mirrors that transfer into personalised screens. They also show live global screenings of their catwalks and events in-store. Angela Ahrendts, Burberry’s CEO says “Walking through the doors is just like walking into our website. It is Burberry World Live.”So where does ‘the flagship’s changing role’ come in? The typical presumption is that the flagship should be located in London, and the store itself should be the largest of the chain. Yet, Karen Millen’s Knightsbridge store is relatively small in comparison to other flagships (8,000 sq ft), and Paperchase homes its second flagship on Glasgow’s Buchanan Street. Glasgow’s Paperchase is 15,000 sq ft, making it smaller than the one on Tottenham Court Road, London. However, the interior makes up for its smaller space, giving it claim to be the brands’ true flagship. Similarly to Paperchase’s break from the norm, New Look have ‘brand flags’ rather than one flagship store, which are their selected best stores across the UK. Are stores breaking away from the typical flagship? As suggested in Retail Week, with ecommerce continuously on the rise, who’s to say a store’s flagship shouldn’t be its own website or mobile app? At the end of last year, Karen Millen created its virtual online flagship store. The virtual version of its Knightsbridge four floor shop was made to bring the in-store experience online, with the ability to navigate around each floor and pick items to add to your online basket. As the previous quote from Angela Ahrendts at Burberry explains, Burberry’s flagship was created to be as similar as possible to their website, insinuating that the…
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Retail IT support
  • 24 Aug

Our Retail IT Support

At Retail Assist, we are proud to have longstanding relationships with our customers, some of whom have been working with us for over 10 years. This is down to our difference as a retail technology specialist, and the unique support delivery that we provide. Our retail IT support is tailored to retailers’ specific and exact requirements: as much or as little as is required. This helpful infographic is one way to think about our retail IT support provision:Our expert in-house team of highly experienced Project Managers are qualified to advise on all retail IT and technology related requests for information, managing projects for retailers from an early consultancy stage, such as POS selection, right through to the implementation. Our support is unique in that we manage the implementation of our own award-winning solutions and services, as well as solutions and software from other businesses, using our own Projects resource. Once product implementation has been organised, managed, overseen and trialled, we like to continue to provide ongoing support to our customers. All of our support services, such as Operations support, data centre hosting, IT infrastructure management, Help Desk services, Ra-X data exchange and polling solution monitoring, are offered as a 24x7x365 model, ensuring that your retail business has dependable and resilient support in place. In today’s omnichannel retail environment, consumers desire to shop anytime, anywhere, anyplace, and retailing doesn’t stop: Retail Assist works with this discipline in mind across all of its IT services and solutions, to ensure we are there at the most critical times to support you whenever you need it. In addition, our support model isn’t exclusive to the UK. As a truly global company, not only do we support over 200 international stores in over 60 countries, but our Help Desk support allows customers to benefit from communicating with multilingual call analysts, speaking 7 European languages (French, German, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Hungarian). Since delivering Help Desk services in international languages for Karen Millen stores overseas, the brand has experienced a 55% reduction in average problem resolution time in little more than a year. Our retail understanding has positioned us well to provide deeper levels of support for existing systems and the roll out of new ones. Our customers are finding that the experience we have is saving them time and resources, resulting in leaner, more profitable business processes. End-to-end, 24x7x365, and international. Retail IT support for an omnichannel world. If you want to know more, please click here. Share the Retail IT Support Image On Your SitePlease include attribution to retail-assist.co.uk with this graphic.…
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shopping-online-ecommerce-540x334
  • 17 Aug

Bricks and clicks: a healthy omnichannel relationship

An interesting signing-off comment in Retail Systems really caught our eye last week:So, in this week’s blog, I’d like to take the opportunity to respond to Editor Scott Thompson’s very well-written observation: that the advent of omnichannel retailing gave the traditional retail store a new lease of life that no-one quite predicted. It was perhaps an over-exaggeration that the high street was “dying”, but it has struggled in recent times. The number of retail premises left empty last year almost tripled, as 5,839 shops were closed in 2014. A study of 500 UK town centres recorded net closures of 987, up from 371 in 2013. In other words, things were crumbling in bricks-and-mortar land, whilst £104 billion was splashed out online in the same year, the first time annual spending has exceeded the £100billlion barrier in the UK. However, clicks certainly haven’t “beaten” bricks, according to our own research. In a cross-generational survey we carried out earlier this year, the High St was still the favoured shopping channel for 40% of Generation Y and 48% of Generation X. Yet, when asked about shopping across channels, the majority of both groups shop in this way (92% of Gen Y and 80% of Gen X), suggesting that the general shopping experience is not exclusive to one channel alone. Although originally posited as the High Street’s nemesis, the ecommerce boom might have been responsible for turning the situation around. For the first time, the strength of online competition made retailers sit up and take action in the omnichannel retail world: how could they make the traditional store a more appealing, functional, and profitable part of the retail business? So why has ecommerce been the saving grace of the high street? Clicks and bricks (or ecommerce and bricks & mortar) work together to power omnichannel customer engagement in many ways, for a seamless brand experience.Click and collect has been without a doubt the most popular delivery initiative in recent times, tying ecommerce and the store experience together in the name of greater customer convenience. More than a third (35%) of UK consumers used click and collect services in 2014, according to Mintel. Also, benefiting in-store sales, studies have shown that shoppers going in-store to collect items spend on average £27 more per trip. Click-and-collect is definitely here to stay. Not strictly ecomm specific, but encompassing the omnichannel theme, Ship from Store practices allow retailers to fulfil orders via the most efficient channel, fulfilling the customer promise quicker. SFS unlocks the functionality of the store, enabling them to become virtual distribution hubs rather than stand-alone units detached from the omnichannel world. Retailers are making headway with smarter inventory management, and with greater stock visibility available to retailers, consumers also want to know where they can buy. 71% of consumers expect to view in-store inventory online, so that even if they browse a product on the web, they want to know that they can pick it up in store. Our omnichannel supply chain solution,…
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1 million Help Desk calls
  • 10 Aug

Celebrating 1 million calls: The Help Desk’s golden ticket and golden years

Last week was all about our special Golden Ticket Event, celebrating 1 million calls to our Help Desk. To celebrate this million milestone, we hid Golden Tickets in chocolate bars for our employees to find, in Nottingham, Northampton, London and Stanton Harcourt. It was a tasty treat for all, and our lucky winners received a special Golden Ticket prize. Vue Cinemas Westfield, who made call 1 million, were also rewarded with some champagne for their contribution to the milestone.However, there’s more to this event than first meets the eye. It’s not about the chocolate, the prizes, or even Willy Wonka… We wanted to thank and recognise each member of our team, the people who make the great relationships with our customers possible, and power customer engagement with big international brands 24×7. The Help Desk is really at the centre of our operations, allowing us to provide retail IT support internationally in multiple languages, work with customers across the globe, and provide critical support at all hours. You might not know that when the Help Desk came into being, in 1999, the two original team members that manned the desk and took that very first call, are still working for Retail Assist today. And when the team expanded after Retail Assist’s first retail contract was made with Adams (a childrenswear retailer), and the numbers went from 2 to 6 analysts, these members are also still here. They’ve worked with numerous customers, and changed offices twice, from Cabourn House in Bingham, to East Street in Bingham, to Friar Lane in Nottingham, where they still work today. This isn’t just nostalgia: it really speaks volumes for the development the Help Desk has experienced, and the talent and dedication these people have given back to the business. The original members of the Help Desk now work in Store Systems, Store Development, have taken up positions as Project Managers, and even in Sales. And the pattern has continued, as this video below demonstrates. Our Store Development Analyst, Jahmel, also started out as a young rookie on the Help Desk.Retail Assist values our people as our best asset, and The Help Desk is the talent pool of our company. From 2 members in 1999, we now have over 50 analysts taking around 600 calls a day, communicating in 7 international languages, and supporting over 5000 stores (over 200 of which are international). So, to our employees old and new, a big RA ‘thank you’, and we hope you’ve enjoyed our first 1 million milestone!…
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Help Desk 1 million calls
  • 3 Aug

A special Golden Ticket for the Help Desk

As you may have read in our latest Retail Assist news piece, we’ve just marked a very special ‘million milestone’ as a business. Late last week, out-of-hours at around 9pm, our IT Help Desk received its MILLIONTH call – our very own Golden Ticket. Vue Cinemas was the customer that made call number 1,000,000, the international cinema chain we’ve been supporting since 2009. The significance of the call is a testament to how we’ve developed since the company’s inception in 1999. From 1 IT support call to 1 million, the Help Desk is integral to the Managed Services we provide. Supporting brands across the world, our service desk provision is truly international; not only are our call analysts multilingual, providing support in 7 languages, but our 24x7x365 cover means time differences and out-of-hours trading are never a problem for the retailers and hospitality operators we work with. As a thank you to the Retail Assist teams that work 24×7 to support our customers trading in an omnichannel world, powering customer engagement anytime, anywhere, we’re having a company-wide Golden Ticket event. We’ll be sending each one of our employees a special chocolate delivery, and a lucky person from each of our UK offices, in Nottingham, Northampton, London and Stanton Harcourt, will be the winner of an RA Golden Ticket! Look out for these winners on our Twitter page this week, using the hashtag #GoldenTicket. At Retail Assist, we strongly believe that Our People are our most valuable asset. Next week, our ‘million milestone’ blog will focus on some of the people who have contributed to the Help Desk’s growth and development since we began, allowing us to achieve our Golden 1 millionth call ticket. The Help Desk is the talent pool of our organisation; strongly believing in personal development and internal opportunity, some of our longest serving members began at Retail Assist working on the Help Desk. In fact, the call analyst that took the millionth call is one of them. Find out more next week, and here’s to the next million!…
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App Academy learner view
  • 27 Jul

Tech is changing: respond with Training

This blog will focus on the developments in retail technology that have brought around a need for change in approaches to training in the retail sector. For sales assistants on the shop floor, and buyers and merchandisers using omnichannel supply chain functionality to manage and analyse retail business performance, technology is changing at a rapid pace, and training needs to keep up.As mentioned in last week’s blog, consumers now shop for the experience as much as for the product, therefore visiting the high street or a retail outlet requires a differentiating factor more than ever before. Retail theatre must be created, to allow the store to stand out from the online buying experience, complemented by first class customer service. Why visit the physical store if the service is poor, mistakes are made by inexperienced staff due to lack of training, and your items are not in stock? 72% of consumers re-ordered from/re-visited a retailer after a good customer experience, and our retail applications help to power your customer engagement in this way. Why is training overlooked in the retail industry? A number of reasons mean efficient retail training can be left by the wayside, despite its importance to business profitability, brand reputation and customer experience. The quick turnover of staff, so much a part of life in the industry, can mean that during big intakes of new starters to cope with busy periods such as Summer Sales, Black Friday and Christmas, training is viewed as a cost rather than an investment in the staff base and efficiency of the business. Also, it can be difficult to find a time to round everyone up at the same place, same time, when employees’ rotas vary from one week to the next. If delivered by a senior member of staff, or an external body, the whole training process can have a large price tag. But it’s not that the staff are unwilling: it’s estimated that 25% of retail employees leave their job simply because there aren’t enough learning or training opportunities. Retail Assist Innovation In response to this current culture, our innovative team has developed and launched the App Academy, an online training and user support portal, to enable greater operational efficiency in the staff base, preventing costly mistakes.72% of companies who were included in a recent survey stated that e-learning helps them to keep up-to-date with changes in their industry, which helps them to remain competitive within their niche. It was also found, in a study conducted by Bersin & Associates, that companies and organisations that did have a strong learning culture did better in their market than those who do not. Online learning removes the need to round everyone up at the same place at the same time, saving time and money. This is a huge advantage in the retail industry, where employees’ schedules often change from one week to the next. E-learning is optimised for mobile devices (smartphones and tablets), as well as desktops. Delivering content to these…
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Customer Engagement by Retail Assist2
  • 20 Jul

Customer Engagement Powered By Retail Assist

Our Help Desk is the hub that powers customer engagement with big name brands 24×7, across the globe. On a typical day out, see how your customer experience is supported in different retail and hospitality outlets, with our “Big Day Out” infographic:    We play a behind-the-scenes support role for all the brands featured, to ensure that their IT systems are supported to enable them to provide the best experience for their customers. Across the various touchpoints in these stores (e.g. tills in bars, coffee shops, cinemas, retail stores; inventory management systems in retail stores; ordering systems in restaurants), our Help Desk has the expert knowledge to support them for optimum performance, and coordinate incident management when things go wrong, which is critical during busy periods. And it’s not just everything you see on this page, as the journey goes beyond this. We like to think that by powering great customer engagement for brands across various business sectors, our support model enables brands to develop better relationships with more loyal customers. Recent research has shown that shoppers in particular go shopping to enjoy the end to end experience of the visit, rather than having a specific product in mind. For example, say that in the Karen Millen store pictured in our Day Out roadmap (we even support their stores in Europe, in multiple languages), one of their till systems went down, consider the impact that this might have in-store for keen shoppers. Queues, stressed staff, and a bad payment experience. Sometimes enough to put a damper on the day out.. If you can’t recover quickly enough from till downtime, consider the size of the impact that this could have in relation to lost sales, by customers abandoning their baskets. Research reveals that the longer your customers spend queueing, the less likely they are to commit to making a purchase. A survey conducted for Barclaycard discovered that 40 per cent of us refuse to queue for longer than two minutes, and 51 per cent of shoppers refuse to even enter a store if they spy a queue. Our expert Help Desk call analysts work 24x7x365 to manage incidents like till downtime, resolve them as quickly as possible, and prevent them from reoccurring. So, next time you grab a coffee, buy some new clothes, order pizza, watch a film, or go out for a drink, we might just be behind the scenes to make your big day out run smoothly.  …
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Apple Pay Retail Assist
  • 10 Jul

The importance of “Desire to Acquire” time

Apple Pay, the contactless smart payment method anticipated by many in the retail sector, is being introduced next week, allowing consumers to pay contactlessly for purchases with their iPhone or Apple Watch. The innovation is reducing the steps between the “desire to acquire”, and the purchase, through “no click” payment. For those who worry about the security issues paying via mobile, an extra feature (tokenisation) allays any security doubts; unlike contactless cards, the card details stored in your Apple device are never passed to the retailer.Apple Pay is simplifying one of the more painful parts of the shopping journey: payment. It’s a necessary step, but one that retailers need to make simpler and more convenient. This reduces what we call “desire to acquire” time; the longer the customer spends thinking about the purchase, the more likely they are to abandon it. Reducing the waiting time between the initial desire and the purchase is essential, especially given the increasingly short attention span of today’s consumer. When there are fewer clicks between the desire to acquire and buying the item, that’s when the shopping experience will be truly connected. So, we’ll see more retailers reducing the amount of time between the desire to purchase and the transaction with more simple payment methods, such as contactless mobile payment, or a one-click ecomm purchase option, like Google’s buy button. A range of contactless wearables along the same theme has recently been produced by Barclaycard: a contactless payment sticker, a key fob, and wristband, are amongst the new innovations.The general opinion of technology in retail is that it makes processes more efficient. However, it is so much more than that when you consider that some of the biggest retail brands, such as the e-tail giant, Amazon, only exist due to technology. Technology is fast evolving and changing the face of retail at a rapid pace. The near future will become saturated in shoppable moments, and retailers must be ready to respond. We’re proud to be at the forefront of innovation, investing in the best people, research and development, to keep innovating and bringing fresh ideas to market. What’s your opinion of the new contactless smart payment method? We’d love to hear your opinion, so post your comments below.…
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Click and Collect Retail IT Services
  • 6 Jul

Why is John Lewis calling time on free click and collect?

If you read the retail headlines last week, delivery and fulfilment was a very hot topic. Whilst Amazon launched its premium one hour delivery offer in London, in a shock turn of events John Lewis announced it would be charging £2 for click and collect orders under £30, in a move away from “unsustainable” free fulfilment practices. John Lewis boss, Andy Street, said that at present only 18% of its orders are under £30 in value, a minority figure. Nevertheless, if there’s anything to be learnt here, it’s that the customer will ultimately hold the final judgement on this risky move. Consumers today have been taught to expect greater convenience, later cut-off times, faster delivery, and all of this not costing a single penny. But, you can’t continue to have something for nothing without someone losing out, and in a bid to reclaim this punishing cost on their product margins, John Lewis has made the call. It will be very interesting to see if other retailers follow suit, in sight of the outcome of John Lewis’ venture. The industry will be watching the impact of the decision with a keen eye. With Marks and Spencer and House of Fraser amongst the first retailers to shout about their plans to keep click and collect services free of charge to the customer, will they be left with their tail between their legs upon realising they’ve missed the boat to fulfilment sustainability later down the line? Earlier this year, we carried out an original Retail Assist survey, assessing the consumer sentiment around the click and collect delivery method. Here’s a helpful infographic of our findings:The majority of our respondents use click and collect service because it’s free. This statistic is slightly worrying for retailers thinking of charging for the service, and might well impact upon John Lewis’ online orders, changing the ecomm/in-store sales balance. 34% of shoppers we surveyed use click and collect at least once every three months, and 17% at least once a month, demonstrating that it’s a very popular choice. Latest statistics in Drapers on CACI’s retail demographic report show that the typical click and collect shopper is worth £112 on that trip compared with £62 for non-click-and-collect shoppers, another reason that click and collect is a good opportunity for retailers to cash in on, rather than destabilise with changes that are unfavourable to the consumer. Whatever the outcome, it’s clear that with the current omnichannel approach to retail (any product, any time, anywhere) retailers need to develop new strategies to combat the impact of more demanding fulfilment practices on product margins. What’s your opinion on John Lewis’ latest move? Will other retailers follow in their footsteps and U-turn on free fulfilment? Post your comments below. Share this Infographic On Your Site <p><strong>Please include attribution to www.retail-assist.co.uk with this graphic.</strong></p><br /><br /><br /> <p><a href=’http://www.retail-assist.co.uk/john-lewis-calling-time-free-click-collect/’><img src=” alt=’Click and Collect Retail Assist’ width=’540px’ border=’0′ /></a></p><br /><br /><br /> <p>…
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retail assist events
  • 29 Jun

Here’s to Summer, and our great Customers

Last week, we celebrated our annual Summer Drinks event with our fantastic customers; retailers and hospitality brands that we’re proud to support with our IT services and solutions. On a lovely warm evening at a quirky venue in Soho, we had a great time over drinks and nibbles. Of course, a Retail Assist event wouldn’t be complete without some fun, so our photobooth corner provided some entertainment! We have long-standing relationships with our customers, spanning up to 14 years, and our events are a way of saying “thank you”, to our colleagues old and new. At Retail Assist, our customers are at the heart of what we do. The difference that we offer as a business, is that we can provide you with the whole retail IT package. Not only can we manage the full implementation process of retail IT solutions, thanks to our expert project managers, but we will also support the solution with our retail IT services, and provide longer term support in a more educative format, the Application Academy. All of this, 24×7, 365, across the globe with multilingual support.    To see the whole album, head over to our Facebook page. We love hosting our annual Summer Drinks, and we’re already excited for our festive end of year event. Exciting things to come.  …
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