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+44 (0)115 904 2777
+44 (0)115 904 2777
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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technology
  • 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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IT Help Desk
  • 18 Apr

SDI Awards Winner’s Blog

If you haven’t yet seen our latest news, we’re pleased to announce that we’re the proud Winners of ‘Best Managed Service Desk’ at the Service Desk Institute (SDI)’s Annual IT Service and Support Awards!As you can see from the image above, we were pretty happy to receive our Award on stage, alongside judges and members of the SDI. The Awards evening was a fantastic night enjoyed by all. Here’s us looking slightly more composed for our professional photograph!The Awards Journey: From Finalists to Winners. Last year, we entered the SDI Awards for the first time, and were so proud to make it through to the Final 3. This year, we wanted to come back bigger and better, demonstrating how our investment in the Help Desk had developed the service provided to our customers. Behind the glitz of the Award night, it was a tough process. We started out with a written application, detailing how we embrace best practice processes to raise the quality of service delivery, how we engage with our customers to create an inspiring and engaging service experience, how we have empowered and invested in the team to be inspired, take action and be better together, and how we shine by demonstrating and delivering exceptional business value. After being successfully shortlisted, we were then invited to an interview session (known as “Judges’ Houses”!) with the SDI’s Director of Professional Services, David Wright, SDI Industry Analyst, Oliver O’Donoghue, and ITSM Consultant and CEO of ITSMF UK, Barclay Rae. After this, and gaining a spot in the Final 3, a final presentation and site visit by Oliver and Barclay took place in March. As an SDI Finalist, perhaps the most fun part of the process was then making our Help Desk video for the Awards night! Presenting, Help Desk Baby….    You can view the video on our YouTube channel here. 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. It’s Our People at Retail Assist’s Help Desk that really make the difference. The team works 24×7, speaking 8 different languages, delivering specialist technical support to retail and hospitality IT systems across the globe. Not only this, but as “the voice at the end of the phone”, customers appreciate speaking with someone who truly understands the impact of trading disruption, and communicates honestly with a goal to always have the customer smiling by the end of the call. Well done again to the team, and a big thank you to everyone at the SDI who…
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personalisation
  • 11 Apr

Retail Assist Roundtable Discussion: Personalisation

When does “Up Close and Personal” become “Too Close and Freaky” during the retail customer experience? In the first of our Roundtable Discussions, we dig deeper into the personalisation concept, how far consumers are comfortable with sharing their information, and what retailers must be careful to consider. Watch the full video on our YouTube channel here, and look out for our next instalment soon. …
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Single view of Stock
  • 4 Apr

Single View of Stock: In Pictures

You may have seen our retail focus blog last week on single view of stock, and how critical it is to retailers pursuing omnichannel. Benefits to the retailer positively influence every aspect of retail operations. With regards to the Merchandising process, a single view of stock can enable retailers to display more accurate stock messaging, whether by only showing items in stock, removing customer frustration; or by creating urgency through low stock messaging such as ‘last chance to buy’. A single view of stock can also aid in-store staff, empowering them to answer enquiries about stock levels with a view across all channels, meaning they can direct a customer to alternative stores, or order the product online. Fulfilment is also impacted positively by a single view of stock. Retailers can accurately track the presence of stock in both stores and warehouses in real time, turning stores into virtual distribution hubs. It can be more cost effective to ship from store, rather than rely on inflexible centralised warehousing. For a single view of stock to be worthwhile, it must reflect changes in physical stock status in real-time, enabling retailers to access reliable information about all stock from a single viewpoint. Check out our infographic below, giving a round up of 3 main benefits of a single view of stock in terms of omnichannel retailing and the customer experience:Want to know more about how you can achieve a single view of stock, and improve business performance? Contact us to talk more about Merret, by emailing info@retail-assist.co.uk, or fill out our quick contact form here.…
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single view of stock
  • 29 Mar

The importance of a Single view of Stock

If a retailer is to offer a truly omnichannel retail experience, a single view of stock is critical. That’s why the central stock pool function in our omnichannel supply chain solution, Merret, is at the heart of retail operations.Having a single view of stock has several benefits:Facilitates omnichannel processes such as ship-from-store. Using individual stores as virtual distribution hubs is key to ensuring orders are fulfilled in the most cost-efficient way, preventing overstocking and stockholding by making stock readily available where it’s needed most. This can only be achieved when stock is viewed across all channels in one single view. Being unable to view real-time stock levels across all channels can lead to unprofitable stockholding, resulting in mass discounting, which impacts severely on profit margins. Better experience for the customer, by fulfilling a greater number of orders. Lack of stock visibility is detrimental to the omnichannel customer experience – how can a retailer fulfil the customer promise online and in-store if they can’t see where stock is held? Business performance improved by responding to real time trends. A single view of stock across all channels, and end-to-end systems integration means data is reliable, allowing retailers to react to trading trends in real-time for more profitable decisions. Our Analytics module, Merret Analytics, provides a clear and simple view of all sales information, for greater business profitability.With 100% stock visibility, what underpins it in terms of retail process and functionality? The central stock pool in Merret uses one pool of stock to fulfil orders from any channel. It is not necessarily a sole physical location, as inventory can be physically held at different points; in the warehouse or in stores. It has a global ability to allocate stock based on central demand; this single view of stock ensures that inventory is always directed towards the channel in which it is selling best. Maximising profitability through full price trade, and reducing discounting due to unbeneficial stockholding, are the benefits being experienced by leading retail brands, including Karen Millen, Jacques Vert, Oasis and Paperchase. You can read about our latest Merret project with Karen Millen here. For more information about how you can achieve a single view of stock with Merret, please email info@retail-assist.co.uk, where one of our team will follow up your query.…
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Paul St 1
  • 21 Mar

The Great Retail Assist Bake Off 2016

For Sport Relief, we enjoyed fundraising across all of our Retail Assist sites on Friday with a company wide Bake Off! Charitable giving is important to our business, and the Bake Off was a great way to get together in aid of a fantastic cause. We’re proud to have raised over £500! The Star Baker was crowned at our Paul St London office: congratulations to Sarb Singh, our Desktop Support Manager, for his Falling Malteaser Masterpiece! Check out the bakes below:…
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