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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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festival fashion
  • 22 Jun

Festival Fashion Survey

Festival season is truly upon us in the UK! The rather wet June weather promises muddy fields and a whole lot of fun for Glastonbury goers later this week, as tradition goes. Ahead of the festival period, most retailers respond to festival fashion demand with a whole range of boho trends, rock get-up, extravagant accessories and quirky prints. But just how big is the festival trend this summer? And what are the true festival essentials? We carried out an original festival fashion survey to find out more. Please feel free to share our infographic with the embed code at the bottom of the page!Although 41% of people we surveyed haven’t been to a festival, this doesn’t seem to stop the festival trend returning year after year. It wasn’t surprising that wellies were the number one item for festivalgoers to pack, arguably the most essential item of clothing! This was followed by a great outfit, as the festival fashionistas look to score fashion brownie points by sporting the best festival wear, and of course Instagram their best look. It also came as no surprise that 56% of people go all out at a festival, and wear more extravagant outfits than usual. Just under half (48%) said that retailers should stock more festival wear. This perhaps points to the general positive trend in festival fashion ranges that retailers experience, and the fair amount of festival window displays and marketing campaigns that shoppers expect to see around May/June. Retailers can take their collections further and increase engagement by posting “Top 5 Festival looks” or trend pages, as our customers ASOS and Oasis have done. Will you be attending Glastonbury this week, or another festival this summer? What are your festival fashion essentials? Post your comments below! Share this Image On Your Site <p><strong>Please include attribution to www.retail-assist.co.uk with this graphic.</strong></p> <p><a href=’http://www.retail-assist.co.uk/festival-fashion-survey/’><img src=’http://www.retail-assist.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Retail-Assist-Festival-Survey.png’ alt=’Retail Assist Festival Survey’ width=’540px’ border=’0′ /></a></p> <p>…
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Omnichannel Supply Chain
  • 15 Jun

Humans: how far would you go?

If you tuned in to Channel 4 last night, you were in for a chilling, unsettling watch. New drama, Humans, takes advancements in technology to a new level, presenting a society using humanoid robots, or synths, as the latest must-have gadget. The main storyline last night featured the Hawkins family, who invest in synth Anita to help around the house, take control of domestic tasks, and look after the children. However, it soon becomes apparent that Anita might embody more than a machine, when her initial characteristics suggest that she can think and feel.Aside from the high-energy thriller feel of the drama, featuring a few super-synths on the run, for the most part, the best thing about the drama is that it makes you think about the “big” questions – humanity, technology, artificial intelligence, and the present. I hesitate to say “the future”, because the most unnerving feeling I experienced whilst watching Humans is that it isn’t set in the future, but sometime around now. Like Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, that I analysed in a blog on the Internet of Things, Channel 4’s writers have a stunning capacity to distance their dramas enough from reality for viewers to have a slightly objective perspective, yet close enough to prickle the back of your neck… Recent stories in the retail and hospitality sectors point towards the fact that synths aren’t such a giant leap. Last month, Ocado revealed its latest warehouse investment in robots to pick and pack groceries, removing human staff, and increasing the operational efficiency of their warehouses. Of course, this type of robotics doesn’t have a pretty face. But in Japan, the concept is taken further. A hotel in Nagasaki is to become the first robot-run hotel in the world, hoping to free itself of human employees as a team of 10 robots will check you in, take your bags, interact in 4 languages, and escort you to your room. Chillingly, the Japanese robotics company, Kokoro, has its scientists working on new features, allowing the “actroids” to sweat and have goose-bumps. If you’re feeling brave, you might want to check out their full range on the company website, drawing parallels with the different “gradings” of synth that Channel 4 introduced us to last night. By decreasing their reliance on humans to carry out the same task, both Ocado and the Japanese hotel echo the final sentiment of last night’s episode: what if humans become redundant? Again, a question I’ll repeat from a previous blog: how far would you go? “Would you get one?”, asked in living rooms across the UK last night, was answered by an uneasy “maybe”.  Review by Rhianne Poole,  Marketing Executive at Retail Assist.…
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Gen X and Gen Y
  • 8 Jun

Gen X and Gen Y Shopping Survey

For the purpose of this blog and infographic, Gen X refers to those age 36-55, and Gen Y 15-35. Much has been said about the all-consuming, tech-insatiable Generation Y, the “millennials” brought up to live and breathe in the digital age. They’re the profile of the future shopper. Samsung researched the 16-24 generation in their ‘Future Shoppers’ report late last year, which found that retailers needed to create in-store theatre with more innovative technology in order to appeal to the younger generation. But does this just apply to Generation Y? Or is this a trend amongst all consumers? At Retail Assist, we’re always keen to investigate the current trends, so we undertook an original survey to produce this Generation X vs Generation Y infographic:As you can see, the difference between Gen X and Gen Y’s use of technology doesn’t look startlingly different. The large majority of consumers are engaged with retail technology, and over 80% have an omnichannel approach. The same percentage are using apps to shop, an insight into the explosion of mobile across the UK consumer base. However, the high street still remains a popular channel for both Gen X and Y. Gen X and Y also have the same reservations when shopping online, with their biggest barrier to purchase being hidden delivery charges. Low cost convenience is high on both of their agendas, with click and collect used once a month by 28% of each group. The biggest difference our survey highlights is perhaps shopping online. 40% of Gen Y prefer to shop online, compared to just 8% of Gen X. The second most popular option for Gen X after the high street was shopping outlets, which cater to the discount mentality of many shoppers – same brand quality at lower prices. Perhaps the most interesting point to take forward from this research is that attitudes to omnichannel and the use of tech to shop is prevalent across the consumer base, and is not just exclusive to Gen Y. So retailers, tailor the shopping experience, but don’t neglect the fact that technology is fast becoming an enabler for all age groups. Do you have an opinion on the shopping habits in different generations? Or would you like to share our infographic? Please scroll down to use our comment box and embed code. Share this Image On Your SitePlease include attribution to retail-assist.co.uk with this graphic.…
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Click and collect
  • 1 Jun

Google’s buy button “imminent”: what does it mean for retailers?

Recent reports on Google’s buy button have generated quite a storm in the retail world. Google’s Chief Business Officer, Omid Kordestani, announced that the introduction of the buy button to Google’s shopping ads is “imminent”, which will allow users to purchase directly from its search results without ever leaving Google. The reason for the innovation, according to Kordestani, is to reduce “friction” for users, so that they buy more things online, more easily. This is of course similar to the theme our blogs have centred on recently: reducing the consumer’s “desire to acquire” time. Google’s buy button reduces the physical steps between the initial desire, and the final purchase stage, by providing a simple one-click shopping experience. With the search engine giant set to host the online experience in this way, should retailers be worrying about the longevity of their brand websites, as they drop off on the search results? We will probably see many big-name brands investing more in paid ads, to place themselves in line for Google’s magic button. Retailers are currently the biggest spenders on Google’s search ads, and though the buy button may have been a difficult pitch to them, it certainly won’t stop Google cashing in on retailers’ fear of being “cut out” of the shopping process. The buy button will also only be launched on mobile, as the number of mobile searches has begun to outnumber those made from desktop. In fact, the one-click experience Google will provide is well-optimised for mobile, for users on-the-go requiring a more streamlined and convenient shopping process. Talking of optimisation, the focus on mobile for the buy button also aligns with Google’s recent prioritisation of mobile-optimised sites on the search engine. However, despite retailers’ qualms, it’s not to say that the experience of browsing online will cease to exist, perhaps a saving grace for the website as a shopping channel. If retailers can provide a seamless, exciting shopping experience with a fairly hassle-free, short purchase process, they should not become back-end retail channels. Convenience is king, but for the consumer that demands product choice, they might not be ready to make a purchase from Google’s limited display of buyable options. Furthermore, the lack of detailed descriptions, reviews, customer ratings, photos and other information that usually features on a retailer’s own site, may be a barrier to making an impulse one-click purchase decision. Do you have any opinions on the buy button, or its impact on retailers? We would love to hear them. Tweet us @RetailAssist.  …
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