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Omnichannel retail experience
  • 26 May

Are your customer interfaces shoppable?

Retailers: what if you could see the steps in an online transaction in the real world? This video from Google Analytics is a spoof with a serious message, displaying the loss of customer satisfaction in the face of a frustrating and problematic purchasing experience. A man tries to buy bread in-store, and is faced with a sales assistant directing an unrelenting series of questions that you’d expect to stumble upon during an online transaction.Not only does it raise questions about the ease with which customers can checkout online, but also the appropriateness of the interface. Obviously when trying to purchase in-store, this is the wrong experience to carry out from a customer service perspective. There seems to be a deeper message here. Although omnichannel retailing demands a shopping experience that must be seamless, simultaneous and interchangeable across all retail channels, retailers must pay more attention to how they deliver the experiences. As noted in the most recent Drapers round table feature, customers will continue to transact online. But “when a shopper hits the high street, they are looking to be wowed by retail theatre, which incorporates an innovative use of technology and great service. Get this opportunity right and you have created a singular experience the customer will remember, even if they ultimately convert online.” Retailers are spending more on digital teams to create great usability and customer-focussed features on their websites, but are they investing accordingly in measuring the in-store customer experience? The principles that are prioritised online for fantastic customer experience and added value (e.g. customer reviews, wish-lists, customer profiling) are, and must be, transferable to the store experience. So, maintain a level of differentiation that requires the physical store in the first place, but make sure that you can still carry out the same processes as on other channels. Customers want to shop the brand experience, not just the channel. • Customer profiling. Perhaps the most lucrative of online processes to start using in-store. Not only is in-store technology, e.g. beacons, beginning to “recognise” a customer, but the possibilities unlocked by the wealth of data generated by customers are endless. If a loyal customer has the brand app installed on their smart phone that connects with beacons as they enter the store, imagine how impressive it would be to automatically send a push notification to their device with a discount voucher, and bring up the last items they purchased. • Reviews. Online, they reinforce customer opinion, and give shoppers a more physical appreciation of the item on screen. How can this happen in store? Do you group best-selling items, or give your best seller its own rail and prime display? Mobilise the staff base to go that extra mile when giving product recommendations. • Wish-lists. In store, the idea of a wish-list could be created in both a physical, and a digital sense. In-store tablets can load a customer profile to display their current wish-list, whilst a member of staff retrieves the items and places them…
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Retail Assist Summer Spending
  • 18 May

Summer Spending hotting up for Retailers

Last week, the latest retail sales statistics for April (BRC) were released, showing a positive underlying trend. Although the early Easter heavily distorted April’s figures, the UK experienced the best three-month average year-on-year growth since June last year. In light of this, we decided to conduct our very own Retail Assist Big Summer Survey, to find out consumers’ plans for summer holidays and summer retail spending. The majority of our survey respondents are still organising their summer holiday (61%), but that hasn’t stopped them starting to revamp their summer wardrobe! Here’s a Retail Assist infographic to share our findings (and feel free to share it with the embed code at the bottom).  Perhaps the most interesting stats to come out of our summer spending survey are the ways in which people prefer to shop for their holiday clothes. The high street reigned supreme, with an overwhelming 75% of consumers choosing this method, over mobile/tablet at 18%, and online at 7%. This almost reverses the current reports on the e-commerce boom. Because the most common reason people choose shopping on the high street is for ‘inspiration’, it could be that the high street shoppers are just browsing or window shopping. But, increasingly, the need to physically try on holiday clothes, and the warmer summer weather, means that most people find themselves on the high street in the lead up to summer. Retailers, ensure that your window displays are on trend and eye catching to keep the customers coming in. Regarding the most popular summer clothes that consumers will be on the lookout for, 61% of people we surveyed said that summer dresses are their favourite item to buy. The perfect pair of sunglasses came behind at 22%, with bikinis at 15%, and flip flops at 2%. And a fun statistic to end with: our respondents chose a fashionable outfit over sun cream as their main priority to pack. With 70% of people choosing clothes, 28% choosing a good book, and 2% selecting sun cream as the most important item to pack, hopefully they’ll prioritise their passports too! Like our infographics and original research? Give us a follow on Twitter for more retail stats, or follow our Pinterest page to check out our other infographics. Are you going on holiday soon? Or have you splashed out on some new summer wear? Tweet us a picture @RetailAssist. Share this Image On Your Site <p><strong>Please include attribution to retail-assist.com with this graphic.</strong></p> <p><a href=’http://www.retail-assist.co.uk/summer-spending-hotting-retailers/’><img src=’http://www.retail-assist.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Retail-Assist-Summer-Survey.png’ alt=’Retail Assist Summer Spending’ width=’540px’ border=’0′ /></a></p> <p>…
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omnichannel supply chain
  • 11 May

Retail Definitions: Omnichannel Supply Chain

During the last few years in retail, one term in particular has become dominant in the language of retail operations and supply chain functionality: omnichannel. But what is omnichannel retailing, what’s an omnichannel supply chain, and what are the benefits? This Retail Definitions blog will explain. Let’s start with a helpful graphic:What is omnichannel retailing? Omnichannel retailing is the new generation of cross-channel and multi-channel retail. Omnichannel retailers have a presence on several channels and platforms (i.e. brick-and-mortar stores, mobile, online, concession, catalogue etc.) and enable customers to transact, interact, and engage across channels simultaneously and interchangeably. Omnichannel, for example, gives customers the convenience and flexibility to purchase an item via their smartphone, selecting click-and-collect delivery to pick up the merchandise in-store, and afterwards process a return via the website. It’s important to note that omnichannel goes beyond a physical presence on multiple channels or platforms. Just because you have a website, a mobile app, and a physical store doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re an omnichannel retailer. The brand experience across channels must be seamless, enabling the consumer to shop the brand, not just the channel. What is an omnichannel supply chain? An omnichannel supply chain hinges on the use of a central stock pool to fulfil orders from all retail channels, including in-store, e-commerce and m-commerce, concessions and franchises, and telephone and catalogue. As in the graphic above, the central stock pool is at the heart of all operations. It’s a fully integrated, end-to-end solution, providing an accurate and comprehensive visibility of stock, enabling retailers to maximise trade across their customer facing systems. From ordering to fulfilment, as well as stock management and WSSI tools, a well-integrated omnichannel supply chain solution must have the capacity to manage all steps of retail operations, including buying, merchandising and warehousing. What are the business benefits?Increased stock accuracy and visibility ensures orders are fulfilled in the most cost effective and efficient way Better sell through of full priced stock due to smarter stock management Ability to offer click and collect, and facilitate ship from store practice Customer experience of the brand is enhanced by a seamless and consistent shopping experience Product journey is prioritised just as much as the customer journeyOur supply chain solution, Merret, is developed by Retail Assist for best-in-class omnichannel performance. We now have 21 retail brands live on Merret. Over the last 5 years, our Merret implementations have been commended and awarded at the BT Retail Week Tech & Ecomm Awards alongside our customers Morrisons, Jacques Vert, Whistles, and Mint Velvet. We believe our awards demonstrate our passion for what we do. But don’t just take our word for it. The Global CFO of Paperchase, said: “We attributed a 6.4% uplift to Merret during its first year.” If you’d like to talk with us further about Merret, or any of our retail IT solutions or retail IT services, call our Nottingham Head Office on 0115 8533910 or email info@retail-assist.co.uk…
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CEO Managed Services
  • 4 May

Are you losing customers’ lifetime basket value?

Dan Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Managed Services at Retail Assist, examines the losses retailers experience due to poor IT systems support. It’s not just lost sales that damage a business, but the impact of negative customer experience.Picture the scene, it’s a busy Saturday in-store, with customers forming a heavy queue at both till points, excited to make new purchases. There is the potential for a huge surge in sales. But without warning, one of your till systems goes down. With only one working till and very agitated customers, not only does this reflect negatively on your level of service, but it has been estimated that losses due to till downtime could work out in the thousands. Would you have the right support in place in this situation, to get your systems back up and running before such cost damage could occur? 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. Customers never used to be this impatient, however with the convenience that Internet shopping and click-and-collect delivery provides, customers’ patience in-store is wearing thin. The art of quintessential ‘British’ queuing is lost on the time-poor consumer; perceived waiting time and inconvenience at the purchase stage of the shopping journey are key predictors of shopping cart abandonment. Stuart Neal, head of contactless payment at Barclaycard, commented: “Our research shows that consumers are much less willing to stand in line compared to six years ago and it would seem that as the Internet has become more popular among shoppers, impatience with queuing has increased.” Neal concludes: “Used to buying without delay, customers are even abandoning purchases rather than waiting their turn.” In the face of big queues and inconvenience due to technical issues, it is likely that you have lost that customer’s potential purchase. But it is not just the single basket value that should be taken into account. A bad customer experience could also damage the longevity of the relationship with the brand: and the size of a lifetime basket is much more detrimental to lose. With thousands of pounds worth of lost revenue on the line, having your IT system correctly supported is fundamental, especially during periods of increased uptime. As an example, one of our customers transacted £8.55 per till per minute on average. Using 15 tills during busy periods means that their total revenue is £7,695 per hour, and that’s just in store. By having the right support in place it helps to eliminate the risks of till downtime and other systems-related problems that negatively impact service during busy…
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same day delivery
  • 27 Apr

Satisfying the insatiable consumer: same day delivery

Last week it was announced that Amazon will be providing a nationwide same day delivery service from next year, fulfilled via a click and collect operation.The etailer will offer a same day delivery option when the order is placed before 11:45am, which can be collected from Amazon’s thousands of pick-up points, from 4pm the same day. The price of the service is just £4.99, or free for Amazon Prime customers. For both speed and convenience in today’s retail world, it looks like a fantastic level of service, and caters to the cost conscious consumer, thanks to a relatively small delivery charge of <£5 (much below average for most retailers’ next day delivery charges). The move towards faster delivery in retail has inevitably been driven by the consumer’s increasing desire for having their items quicker – desire now, buy now, want now – but at ever lower prices. Amazon’s next day delivery offer is great for those who prefer “on-the-go” convenience, i.e. they don’t mind going to collect their purchases from a pick up point to give them flexibility, perhaps picking up on the way home from work for example. 21% of people we surveyed use click-and-collect for the convenience it provides, saying that the timing suits them better to collect their items in person. However, in retail, convenience is not a one-size-fits-all term, and the lack of a home delivery option for Amazon’s same day service could prove problematic for those who would prefer home drop-off. In other words, there is still a degree of effort needed to go and pick up your items, rather than the stress free shopping fix of home delivery. In time, perhaps the service may extend to home delivery, and the order curfew of 11:45am may be extended to allow the consumer even more time to place an order, whilst the 4pm delivery aim is brought forward to allow the consumer more time to collect. This would provide greater option, and greater satisfaction for the multifaceted consumer. Perhaps drone delivery for this sort of logistical speed is close on the horizon too. In fact, recent research reveals that shoppers would be willing to opt for drone delivery, with 68% feeling they would benefit from faster delivery times. Amazon US is already trialling the technology, pictured below.It goes without saying for Amazon, who is an online only retailer, but for omnichannel retailers, it is essential that efficient fulfilment of orders comes from one stock pool as pressure on the supply chain becomes stronger. With one central stock pool, not only is there a better inventory visibility, but satisfying the customer journey is a much easier operation. From the single stock pool vision, stock can be managed efficiently and effectively across multiple global retail channels. For more information about how we could improve the efficiency of your supply chain solution, for better fulfilment or a clearer picture of stock, check out our omnichannel retail IT solution, Merret, developed with global multichannel retailing in mind. And…
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Internet of Things
  • 20 Apr

The Internet of Things Part II: Next steps, and what it means for the retail industry

This is the second part of an idea that originated in last week’s blog, “The Internet of Things: be careful what you wish for”, exploring the impact that IoT could have on our everyday lives, and how retailers can tap into this technological phenomenon.IoT might be pervasive earlier than we first thought. And if Gartner’s research is correct, it’ll be a big revolution: they have predicted that 26 billion IoT devices will be in use worldwide by 2020. Last week, we touched on Amazon Dash’s automated “replenishment” button, which operates via an Amazon smartphone app and the home wi-fi network. Customers select stock products they want to reorder, such as washing powder, milk, or toilet roll, and when stocks get low in the home, users can press a replenishment button that automatically places an order of the item, which will then be delivered the next day. Of course, in the physical retail world this puts pressure on the efficiency of the supply chain. The need for clear stock visibility, real time ordering, and a highly mobilised delivery network is essential. With the right end to end omnichannel supply chain solution, this is the opportunity for retailers to provide an even better service to their customers. Personalisation is paramount. The sheer amount of personal data that our super-connected devices generate means that it will become easier to target consumers based on requirements. IoT is so intelligent, that it has the potential to even “think” the way a consumer does. For example, when a consumer is out of milk, their IoT smart fridge will detect this and send out the data via the home wi-fi to their connected smartphone. What’s next will be notifications shared with supermarkets via beacons, so that when said consumer walks past, the internet in their pocket – smartphone – will connect with it, and automatically display a price comparison advert for milk within their current shopping radius. For the time-poor but cost conscious consumer, this automated functionality is well targeted. The same goes for retail. If a consumer has been browsing online, and abandons their shopping cart, their shopping profile data will be stored and shared with the retailer’s in-store beacons. Imagine the next time the consumer walks past the store, and their smartphone receives a simple email notification via beacon technology, of the products they were previously interested in, and the option to purchase and select delivery. Once the “desire to acquire” an item has been sparked, that desire now needs to be serviced immediately. Perhaps smart wardrobes will soon exist: if a consumer needs to order stock items, such as jeans, or a white tshirt, they can speak out to their wardrobe to do so, and have it delivered in-store to try on, or to their home later that day. 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…
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Black Mirror IoT control
  • 14 Apr

The Internet of Things: be careful what you wish for

During a recent conversation I had on the Internet of Things (IoT), the similarities recognised between this technological concept, and an episode of Channel 4’s drama Black Mirror, sparked an interesting discussion about the potential dark side to the rise of automated technology. To recap on a previous blog, IoT refers to the ever-growing network of everyday physical objects, from watches to ovens, that autonomously connect to the internet and communicate with objects around them, and with us. The physical world is becoming one big connected information system.Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror is a series of speculative dark dramas, based on how the world has changed, and projecting what might be to come; literally holding up a black mirror to our current society, and reflecting back worrying possibilities. The most recent mini-series, ‘White Christmas’, features an episode with startling parallels to IoT capabilities, with a human twist. In a futuristic world, a demanding businesswoman undergoes an operation to remove part of her consciousness, making a digital copy of herself which is implanted into a virtual body, called a “Cookie” (not data storage, but a back-up of your entire self). The reason for this is that the digital copy will then run everyday aspects of the real human’s life, from controlling the air conditioning in her house, ensuring her toast is cooked in the morning when she walks into the kitchen, to booking her meetings, and ensuring everything is “perfect”, in the same way in which IoT does autonomously. Thanks to the virtual copy, the human no longer has to carry out the little tasks, to free up her time for more “important” matters. Sounds familiar.During the episode, the darker view on the subject comes from the need to repeatedly torture the digital copy to become a slave to her “real” counterpart’s needs. Even though the Cookie is an artificial copy of consciousness, effectively a computer programme, the fact that it retains its human awareness whilst acting as the enslaved IoT controller raises issues. Though IoT makes our lives easier, is removing the “mundane” and “everyday” from our lives simply making ourselves less human? The “real” businesswoman certainly seems colder and more inhuman than her copy. Being “always on” comes at an obvious price. In addition, the episode raises the issue of security around IoT. In the case of Black Mirror, we still have a human, albeit a digital copy, actioning the personal aspects of her real counterpart’s life. Yet she sees everything she does, through multiple surveillance cameras. IoT doesn’t “spy” on us in this personal sense, but the amount of data it gathers definitely does. Security will become a big issue as IoT integrates more and more into everyday aspects of our connected homes and lives. So before you sign up to a button that automatically replaces the milk in your fridge when it’s empty, think about the points raised here, as well as the real-time, unique and irrecoverable human experiences that will slip by.…
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The Pud Store
  • 2 Apr

“The proof is in the puddin”: local independent retailer The Pud Store is taking the high street by storm

There’s a new kidswear retailer in town, and it’s expanding its high street stores at a fantastic rate in the East Midlands area. The Pud Store, set up by Rachel Mawby and Frances Bishop, sells an exclusive range of designer brand and boutique childrenswear at fantastic outlet prices. Featured recently in Drapers, and with the Drapers Independent and Nottingham Post Business Awards firmly in their sights, the ladies sure have successes to shout about. Given that Retail Assist began in 1999 working with high street childrenswear retailer, Adams, we wondered how much the business start-up experience has changed in this sector over the last 15 years. With the Future High Street Summit taking place in Nottingham just last week, to discuss ideas to futureproof the UK high street, we thought it was a good time to hear from a successful high street brand. Pud’s newest permanent store in Nottingham opened in February just around the corner from Retail Assist’s Head Office, so I headed down to Flying Horse Work to chat with Rachel about their success.  Rhianne: Latest high street reports unfortunately didn’t bear positive news, with store closures totalling 16 a day as consumers shopping online challenge the relevance of the physical store. But it couldn’t be more different for Pud! As you continue to expand your business, what is it that keeps the customers coming through Pud’s doors? Rachel: The response in Nottingham has been fantastic. We originally opened here as a pop-up on Bridlesmith Gate, which was a prime location to get us noticed and on the map as a new business. With a loyal customer base, now that we’ve moved to Flying Horse Walk, the boutique feel and more relaxing arcade location aligns really well with the brand. Unusually, we actually began the business online in January 2014, but felt that we needed a physical store in order to engage better with our customer. The brands we were buying in were relatively unknown at the time, so we wanted to put them in front of the customer in order for them to feel the quality. The unique in-store experience we offer at Pud is what we attribute our high street success to, as well as stocking some amazing brands such as Lilly & Sid (that we won exclusivity to trade over TK Maxx!), Bea Cadillac, Ben Sherman, French Connection and Converse.Rhianne: What is it that’s setting you apart from other childrenswear retailers out there? What do your customers really value about Pud? Rachel: You’ve got to really know your customer to do well on the high street, and we are designed with mothers in mind!Our feeding room has been praised as a bit of a haven, where mothers can relax and feed their little ones in a comfortable environment. The store is also designed clutter-free in order to allow pushchair room, and a relaxed space to browse. We’ve also had a lot of customers commenting on how practical the kids play area and…
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Retail Assist Easter Retail Insight
  • 30 Mar

Easter Insight: Will it be a retail eggstravaganza?

True to seasonal form, here at Retail Assist we conducted a survey ahead of the Easter bank holiday weekend, to find out people’s plans, and suggest how bank holiday spending could impact upon your retail sales. Here’s a Retail Assist infographic to show the results of our Easter survey:Share this Image On Your SitePlease include attribution to http://www.retail-assist.co.uk/easter-insight-will-retail-eggstravaganza/ with this graphic.With the weather starting to warm up and more daylight hours to enjoy, the sunshine usually persuades consumers to venture out onto the high street to browse the new spring/summer collections. Or, if British tradition holds true, a sudden April shower might mean an online shopping session is more likely! 27% of consumers agreed that it’s time to change their winter wardrobe, trading darker colours and heavy knits for something brighter and more seasonal. Interestingly, over half of those surveyed (56%) would only purchase their Spring/Summer wardrobe over the Easter period if there was a sale. Today’s retail culture of “sale steals” and “bargain” prices can be detrimental to some brands’ full price mix, but retailers might use seasonal promotions to engage the cost-conscious consumer. They might even buy more full-price items once in-store, or when browsing newer collections online. In addition, the Easter break is usually a time when people start thinking about their summer plans. With a bit more leisure time to search for that perfect break, 43% of people surveyed said that they plan to book their summer holidays during Easter. Given this, it’s definitely not too early as a retailer to begin promoting the “Holiday Shop” trend. 48% admittedly said that booking a holiday would be more of a last minute thing, but that’s not to stop them checking out the summer trends. As a retailer, ensuring customer engagement with the brand should be a high priority, developing long lasting relationships and a loyalty that extends a single basket value to a lifelong one. Whilst you focus on the day to day running of the business, why not consider retail IT outsourcing? Busy trading times such as the Easter bank holiday are a good time to analyse the resilience of your IT systems and the support network you have in place. High street fashion brands such as Oasis, Karen Millen, Warehouse and Coast benefit from outsourcing their IT to Retail Assist, as well as using our Managed Services. Our specialist expertise means retail IT solutions are what we know best. If you’d like to know more about outsourcing your IT support to us, we have a selection of case studies that are available by request. Alternatively, don’t hesitate to drop us an email at info@retail-assist.co.uk or call our Head Office on 0115 853 3910.…
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omnichannel IT services and solutions
  • 23 Mar

IT services and solutions for real time retailing

In the world in which we live, it is becoming more and more essential for retail systems to operate 24x7x365, to provide a seamless customer journey for the insatiable and increasing consumer demand for an “anything, anytime, anywhere” shopping experience.As such, here’s a simple definition of some of Retail Assist’s IT services and solutions, and how they provide business benefits in terms of real time retailing. Merret Omnichannel supply chain Merret is our omnichannel supply chain solution, developed for today’s omnichannel age. Merret is a complete end-to-end solution, with a single stock pool, allowing retailers to maximise trade across numerous customer facing systems, and provide a seamless experience across all channels. In essence, it allows the consumer to shop 24×7, from whichever channel they choose to. Merret’s Weekly Sales Stock and Intake (WSSI), is a vital tool for in-season planning within stock management. The WSSI tool within Merret provides an accurate weekly position of sales, stock and planned intake, ensuring that crucial allocation, replenishment and pricing decisions are made, from up to date and correct information. Merret Tablet Inventory Management of stock with up-to-the minute data has overwhelming potential, because simply put, the most accurate information will lead to better decision making in the field. Deployed on tablets in store, our inventory solution allows greater efficiency of practices such as ship from store, which has been said to have the potential to boost sales by 20%. It gives the most accurate inventory information across the whole store estate, allowing store staff a real time view of the best method of fulfilling orders, whether that is delivery from the distribution centre, or from the store itself. Help Desk support Around the clock retailing must be backed up by equally reliable retail IT support. In real time situations, the losses incurred from a till system going down can quickly add up in terms of lost sales and abandoned purchases, but also lost customer loyalty. Retail Assist’s Help Desk provides retailers with a central point of contact to log all of their IT or Facilities Management issues faced across the store estate, warehouse or distribution centre, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Whether that’s a broken Hand Held Terminal, or issues with technical errors, our Help Desk follows ISO 20000 best practice procedures to resolve the problem in the shortest amount of time, and prevent its recurrence, leaving you to focus on the day to day operations of your business. Ra-X data exchange International retailing, and trading in concessions and franchises, brings great business benefits to retailers through breaking new markets, but can also cause problems with regards to data exchange. Product, price and sales data needs transferring between all the different systems, to provide a reliable and current view of business critical data. Immediate access to timely and accurate sales data enables key strategic business decisions, delivering profitable and successful trading relationships with existing and future global partners. Our Ra-X solution is used to ‘exchange’…
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