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  • 15 Dec

Shopping in a Social Hub

Retailers work hard to ensure their customers can enjoy a seamless and consistent omnichannel experience, but with the added complexities of personalisation and brand loyalty to contend with customers expect more than just a new item of clothing from their shopping experience. Customers want ‘shoppertainment’. They expect the in-store experience to provide this, not only delivering the product they want, but also want excellent customer service and a visually stimulating and engaging environment. They want to be able to socialise whilst doing their shopping and make more of an event out of the process. High-street retailers have had to work hard drawing shoppers back in to the city centres, and with the lure of the internet this has been an even harder challenge. Research consultancy Allegra Strategies had revealed that coffee shops on the high street help to boost footfall by almost 30% and local economies. Over 50% of consumers questioned stated that they would be more likely to stay and shop in a city centre destination if there was a coffee shop nearby. Retailers are therefore submerging themselves in these ‘social hubs’ but that is not all they are doing. They are also developing in-store experiences to not only drive customers in store, but also to keep them in there for as long as possible. Creating digital content displays in stores is one way in which retailers are working to keep customers engaged in the physical store. Burberry for example presents their runway collection on large screens and provides the ability for customers to order items seen in the collection from iPads. Magic Mirrors and other emerging in-store technology helps to elevate the in-store experience allowing customers to virtually try on one garment and see how it would look on them in differing colours and styles. This is also developing in regards to social media with customers now able to share the outfits they are trying on via multiple social networks for instant feedback from family and friends. Drawing on the coffee shop theme, stores such as White Stuff regularly advertise tea mornings where they draw customers in with the lure of tea and cake. It is through ‘social hubs’ and use of current and emerging technologies that increases footfall in stores but also delivers endless ways in which to combat the engagement and brand loyalty aspect of consumer expectations. Just remember that all this needs to be linked seamlessly and consistently with your overall omnichannel offering. If you are interested in Retail Assist and would like to see how we could help improve you in-store experience by helping you to deliver an omnichannel experience then please take a look at our website: www.retail-assist.co.uk. Or you can get in touch with us via email: info@retail-assist.co.uk or call us on: 0115 853 3910.…
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  • 8 Dec

Retail Assist Dictionary Week 3: IT Solutions

Retail Technology is ever growing and changing and it’s with these changes that new terminology is evolving. We thought we would provide you with a useful Retail Assist dictionary so you can keep up to date with some of the most prevalent retail technology buzz words. This week we will be exploring terminology that surrounds IT solutions, and this is the 3rd and final Retail Assist dictionary blog. You can see week 1 ‘International’ here and week 2 ‘On the Go Technology’ here. Supply Chain: This is a network of businesses and contractors that work and coordinate closely together to manufacture, transport, distribute, and sell retail goods. Unlike a regular supply chain which is more of a linear process that follows a product from one phase to the next, an integrated supply chain is more collaborative and can entail joint product development, shared information, and common systems. Merret is our supply chain solution that has been designed and constructed for today’s omnichannel age. Merret provides a complete end-to-end solution, with a single stock pool, allowing retailers to maximise trade across numerous customer facing systems. Merret also provides a seamless shopping experience across all available channels whilst utilising a single stock pool, enabling customers to shop the brand, not just the channel. Central Stock Pool: Merret stock management enables sophisticated, in-season management of product ranges. Merchandisers are able to effectively manage complex assortments, allocating and replenishing stock, by channel. Merret significantly reduces the complexity inherent in the omnichannel grading, initial allocation and replenishment processes. 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. From the single stock pool vision, stock can be managed efficiently and effectively across multiple global retail channels. Omnichannel: The next generation of cross-channel and multi-channel retail. Omnichannel means establishing a presence on several channels and platforms (i.e. brick-and-mortar, mobile, online, catalogue etc) and enabling customers to transact, interact, and engage across these channels simultaneously or even interchangeably, whilst receiving a consistent brand experience. Omnichannel, for example, gives customers the convenience and flexibility to purchase an item using your shopping app, and then letting them pick up the merchandise in your store, plus allowing them to process a return via the website. It’s important to note that omnichannel goes beyond simply being 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. In order to truly be one, you must fuse all those channels together so they give customers a seamless and consistent experience. Multichannel: This term refers to companies using multiple channels (e.g. social media, web and stores) to transact with their customers. Companies with this approach are adopting two or more channels to engage their customers; however, they are…
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  • 1 Dec

Retail Assist Dictionary Week 2: On the Go Technology

Every year brings its own set of retail buzz words, and the last few years have been no different, awash with terms that describe these fast changing retail trends. That is why over the next couple of weeks we will be exploring this new and expanding terminology, with our Retail Assist dictionary of key terms. Last week we looked at ‘International’ retail terminology which can be viewed here. This week we are focussing on ‘On the go Technology’ and next week we explore ‘Omnichannel Retailing’.Mobile Device: A mobile device is a small, handheld computing device, typically having a touch screen display. It’s a computing device that has an operating system (OS), and can run various types of apps. Most handheld devices are also often equipped with WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS capabilities and also have access to the internet. Smartphones are popular mobile devices, they are easily carried on your person and are amongst some of the most powerful and practical mobile devices. Smartphones can be a valuable asset for both customers and retail workers alike. It gives customers the ability to access knowledge about an item prior to purchase, and it allows retail employees to provide a more personalised service. Tablet devices are a form of mobile device and with low cost tablet based computing, retailers can now bring technology onto the sales floor at an acceptable cost. Employing mobile technology enables retailers to tap into smarter ways of keeping check on stock. Unlike the previous generation of Hand Held Terminals, today’s Tablets are multifunctional devices, enabling your store teams to manage inventory, to browse the catalogue and process their emails and store instructions. For more information on mobile devices please click here.Mobile Payments: This pertains to the services and technology that enables consumers to pay using their mobile phones, instead of traditional forms of payment like cash or credit cards. Mobile payment solutions come in many forms, including; Near Field Communication (NFC)-based solutions such as ISIS or Google Wallet, and app-based solutions like PayPal.Relationship Retailing: This is a strategy that businesses implement to build loyalty and forge long-term relationships with customers. Relationship retailing can come in the form of loyalty programs, personalised experiences, or tailored customer service.eCommerce: Electronic commerce, is trading in products or services using computer networks, such as the internet. It draws on technologies such as mobile commerce, electronic transfer of funds, supply chain management, internet marketing, online process of transactions, data collection and inventory management systems.Etailing: Short for “Electronic Retailing”, this is the practice of selling goods over the Internet. Etailers come in all shapes and sizes, and can be as big as giants like Amazon and as small as stay-at-home mums selling crafts online. Etailing has seen tremendous growth over the years, thanks to the emergence of platforms that make it easy for just about anyone to buy and sell online. In 2012, comScore reported that retail e-commerce spending amounted to over $44 billion in the US alone, which was…
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  • 28 Nov

Black Friday 2014

Black Friday has a massive impact on the retail sector and as an IT company that works largely with retailers we wanted to explore exactly what Black Friday means and find out where the term came from. History Black Friday is the day that immediately follows the American holiday, Thanks Giving, which falls on every 4th Thursday in November. It is also the unofficial kick off of the retail Christmas shopping season, but it hasn’t always been this way. The term ‘Black Friday’ was first established by traffic police in Philadelphia in 1924, long before traffic lights. Although not an official holiday day many employers used to give their employees the day off so that they could take advantage of the discounts that were on offer. However this was not the case for the Philadelphia traffic police who weren’t permitted to have the day off to enjoy some retail therapy, instead they had to man the streets and try and contain the madness. They were rotated on 12 hour duty and even the police band had to lend a hand controlling the traffic in the city centre. So it was not uncommon to see the police band’s trumpet player waving traffic through. Not only did these police officers have to manage the high volumes of car and foot traffic during the day, but also when night-time fell they had to then deal with the crowds that descended on the streets to watch the Army/Navy football game. The Philadelphia Police Department starting using the term “Black Friday” as a negative term surrounding the hassle they would face in policing the day, to try and deter people from venturing out on the streets. The term then got adopted by retailers to signifythe transition of retailer’s financial records moving from the ‘red’ in to the ‘black’ i.e. back into profit. Now the term is becoming widely accepted in the UK, since Amazon first started launching Black Friday deals in 2010, and Asda with their buying power of Walmart behind them in 2013. Today Depending on your perspective Black Friday could be seen as a frantic shopping experience that makes you just want to crawl back under your duvet, or it could be a great opportunity to pick up a bargain just in time for the expensive Christmas period. Black Friday has clearly changed over the years, something that started as an America traffic issue has transgressed in to a shopping bonanza that each year keeps exceeding the targets reached in previous years. The internet has fundamentally changed the concept of Black Friday forever. There is no longer the need to start queuing outside stores from the early hours of the morning in the cold, or even the night before. Last year Amazon’s busiest trading time was at 1pm on Black Friday. This year’s projection for online sales shows that in the UK alone shoppers will spend £1m every 3 minutes which is £6k every second. In the US total sales have been estimated…
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  • 24 Nov

Retail Assist Dictionary Week 1: International

 At Retail Assist we are passionate about the future of retail technology. The developments within this sector are dramatically changing the way retailers operate and consumers shop. Global expansion is the future for many retailers, and is opening up numerous possibilities. With the help of technology global expansion and omnichannel shopping are possible. Perpetual advances in retail technology means there is always new terminology to get to grips with, and this is why we have created a Retail Assist Dictionary of key terms and how our solutions facilitate these retailing requirements. Over the next three weeks we will be focussing on three key themes that will reflect the featured terminology and definitions. This week will be ‘International’, week 2 will be ‘On the go Technology’ and week 3 will focus on ‘Omnichannel Retailing’.Ra-X Data Exchange: Trading across multiple locations presents many challenges in the sending and receiving of data, as it is often in varying data formats. Ra-X is our data exchange software solution set up to manage the transfer of business critical data between our customers, their trading locations, trading partners and suppliers across the UK and overseas. Ra-X is a “Cloud” based solution providing customers with a low cost, and high dependency solution to a significant business operation, and facilitates efficient global trading.Global Retailers: We know how important it is for retailers to be able to trade more effectively with their global trading partners, across company owned stores, concessions, standalone stores and franchises. Global expansion is a massive factor for a number of our customers, already we support over 3333 stores in over 62 countries, and this number just keeps on growing. Having the ability to expand worldwide opens retailers up to a wealth of opportunities, including more profitable and successful trading relationships, with existing and future partners across the world. Information received will be transformed into the correct format, sent to your trading system and used to make key strategic decisions.Multi-currency: With global retailing, systems need to be able to trade effectively across multiple currency rates, managing not only currency exchange, but different taxation. Our supply chain solution, Merret, and data exchange solution Ra-X, manage and allow retailers to price goods and services in a variety of foreign currencies, while continuing to receive settlement and reporting in their home currency.Cloud: Simply put cloud computing is an emerging model that allows its users to access their databases from anywhere, with any connected device. A virtualised infrastructure will increase availability and connectivity with end users, but most importantly provide a scalable solution without the requirement for a large capital outlay from the outset and throughout.Time zones: Global retailing requires retailers to trade wherever and whenever they can, across multiple territories, with multiple partners, in multiple time zones. We now live and trade in an ‘always on’ world, requiring retailers to be able to support customers purchasing requirements around the clock. Merret, our supply chain solution and Ra-X, manages the information sharing, automatically taking…
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  • 17 Nov

What can you expect from Shoppers this Christmas?

With Halloween now out of the way retailers are full steam ahead for the manic Christmas period. The fight is certainly underway to attract more custom than in 2013 and with the economy on the rise you would expect consumers to be ready to splurge this Christmas. However there is some evidence to suggest customers will be maintaining a tight hold on their purse strings this festive period. 57% of online shoppers plan to spend more than last year with 26% of online consumers planning to spend the same. There is however 33% who plan to spend less than previous years; and while inflation is still low, wages are still lagging behind and this constraint on the household income could be a factor in the percentage of people planning to spend less this Christmas. Online shopping is going to be a massive contributor in the results of retail Christmas spends this year and becoming more prevalent during the busy Christmas period will be a connected and seamless omnichannel offering. With the development and growth in technology, especially smartphones and tablets, it is likely to attract a high volume of shopping traffic. On average over the past 3 years online shopping has increased in December by 19%, and click-and-collect is set to increase by 40% found Conlumino. Research has also found that 52% of consumers plan on doing most of their Christmas shopping before December, meaning it will be a busy end to November 2014. Of the early shoppers 58% are female compared to 46% of men. With the abnormally warmer weather for the season it has meant that the Christmas shopping period has got off to a slower than normal start and could result in a turbulent trading period. The unusual weather has also had an impact on the autumn trading period, so could this have a knock on effect on the success of Christmas trading? Unless we experience an imminent cooler spell forcing shoppers to start purchasing a winter wardrobe, retailers may have to consider pre-Christmas price reductions. This could however drive in shoppers who are searching for the perfect Christmas bargain but would impact retailer spend margins. This Christmas period will not go by without its up’s and down’s and it’s sure to be a nail biting finish. In our view retailers will fare the storm and this nursery rhyme seems to nicely sum up the current retail situation; “Whether the weather be fine Or whether the weather be not Whether the weather be cold Or whether the weather be hot We’ll weather the weather Whatever the weather Whether we like it or not.” For more information about our services and solutions or how our Merret supply chain solution could help you provide a seamless shopping experience across all available channels whilst utilising a single stock pool, then please visit our website at: www.retail-assist.co.uk or for more information why not email us: info@retail-assist.co.uk or call us: 0115 853 3910. You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram…
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App Shopping
  • 10 Nov

“Appy” Shopper – Mobile App Shopping

 Despite concerns over online shopping leading to the death of the ‘bricks & mortar’ store, online shopping in fact seems to have revived the in-store experience – but what we want to know is how? Online and offline shopping both have their pros and cons and provide very different experiences for the consumer. Instead of taking away from the in-store experience, online has just added an additional shopping route, one which if done correctly with the correct IT service and support in place can enhance the shoppers experience, and join up the customer journey whichever path they choose to take. Research via Cisco has found that 48% of shoppers would like to use a mobile app whilst in store and Savvy Marketing found that 65% of shoppers said they liked the idea of getting targeted coupons sent straight to their smartphone, compared with just 24% in 2012. Personalisation and engagement are massive factors when attracting and maintaining customer relationships and with mobile app shopping you are able to not only distinguish yourself from competitors but also deliver a great omnichannel experience which is proving essential in today’s retail world. Currently 67% of UK shoppers use their smartphones to make a purchase and retailers have been ensuring their websites are fully optimised to provide a smooth and convenient transaction. With the growth of mobile app shopping, the online transaction process is even easier. When a shopper uses an app in store they are instantly connecting online and offline shopping. They are also connecting directly with the brand so are not left vulnerable to temptation from competitors. Apps help to enhance the customer experience; offering personalised shopping, vouchers and much more – generating numerous benefits for consumers to engage with apps. When shoppers begin ordering products online, retailers worry that their physical store will simply become a showroom. To prevent showrooming brands need to join up their customer journey. This could be through developing their own apps, joining up online, and social channels, and engaging with their customers without the temptations of price comparisons and competitor engagement looming over them. The essential point is to provide consistency of service across all channels. Another interesting trend that seems to be emerging is that of ‘webrooming’ and is an entirely different concept to showrooming. Webrooming means that the online retail store becomes a catalogue for the physical shop, and is becoming ever more popular for shoppers who favour click-and-collect. Some retailers have already cottoned on to this trend and have apps in place; Starbucks have a loyalty app and Debenhams have a personal shopper app. Apps are quickly becoming another path on the omnichannel approach to providing a more personalised approach to the consumers and also addressing every element involved in the ever evolving shopping journey. Merret is our supply chain solution that provides a seamless shopping experience across all available channels whilst utilising a single stock pool, enabling your customers to shop the brand, not just the channel. If you would like…
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  • 3 Nov

Is Personalisation getting too Personal?

 As customers we are continuously evolving which is hugely reflected in the world of retail. Our demands and expectations of the shopping journey have changed and developed over the years, and a new craving for a more personal approach has emerged – but is personalisation becoming too personal? Personalisation provides retailers with massive potential in terms of customer insight and building customer relationships. A personalised approach is tailored and encompasses preference of taste and shopping history, proving that retailers know their customers inside out. But is personalisation going a step too, far and has it started to become intrusive? The growth in popularity of the omnichannel experience has really helped drive personalisation, ensuring a consistent customer experience across a multitude of platforms. As soon as a consumer steps out of a store, their personalised journey doesn’t end but continues within the realms of mobile, social and more. With competitive pressures retailers are being driven to find new ways of targeting their consumers, storing bank details and records of customer’s financial histories seems to be the next steps along this road. But could this approach be too intrusive and flare up concerns about privacy. Privacy will always be a hot topic for debate. Retailers need to show that they can deliver true values to customers when handed this data proving they can be trusted with this data. Transparency is key in retail, and any suspicion on a consumer’s behalf that personal data has been misused in any way, for example selling information to third parties, means there will be a breakdown in relations between brands and customers, and retailers may not ever recover from this. Critics of data collection are starting to relax though, but it may do retailers good to try and adopt a more subtle approach that lets the customer know that they are there and care about them and are delivering promotions and offers to them that are of relevance and not a waste of their personal information. Personalisation has indeed become a crucial part of retailer’s response to the changing trends in customer shopping habits and consumers have become used to enjoying a wider range of products at lower prices. It not only helps to establish and build relationships but helps brands to stand out from one and other. But it’s clear that action is needed, as it doesn’t take much to tip the balance from being a retailer that offers a great personalised retail journey to being a retailer that’s too intrusive. If you are interested in Retail Assist and the IT systems and solutions that we provide then please visit our website for more information: www.retail-assist.co.uk. You can get in touch with us via email at: info@retail-assist.co.uk or call us on: 0115 853 3910. You can also keep up to date with all of our latest news by searching ‘RetailAssist’ on Twitter and Instagram and don’t forget to like our page on Facebook.…
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Robin Hood
  • 28 Oct

Retail Assist takes part in Robin Hood Day

Everyone has heard of Robin Hood, Nottinghamshire’s most famous heroic outlaw and the world’s favourite folk hero. Robbing from the rich to give to the poor alongside his band of Merry Men, his adventures have been retold down the generations, from medieval ballads to Hollywood blockbusters. So this weekend, when Nottingham hosted ‘Robin Hood Day’, as a local Nottingham business we just knew we had to get involved. The Robin Hood Marketing Committee, made up of members from the city and county councils and Experience Nottinghamshire, as well as Robin Hood enthusiasts, decided to set up the event on 25th October to help promote the county’s legendary figure. The idea behind this was that the local community and businesses across Nottinghamshire would get involved, from theming menus to getting dressed up as Robin Hood, becoming an annual event. Tony Bates, a committee member has been instrumental in organising the event using social media to not only advertise the day but also helping to gain interest and traction with local businesses. Tony who also got involved by donning a green outfit himself, commented; “One of our focuses is to claim back Robin Hood for Nottingham. We want a day where people can have fun and celebrate our local legend.” It was nice to see other local businesses getting involved, such as McDonald’s at Exchange Walk’s and their Robin Hood themed tree and also the butchers at the Victoria Market were some of our favourites. We were really excited to get involved and enjoyed getting some pictures on the roof of the Retail Assist building with Nottingham Castle in the background, we also paid the Robin Hood statue a visit. Here at Retail Assist we are an award winning retail IT services and solutions provider. Offering IT support through a dedicated 24/365 service desk, data centre, remote monitoring, supply chain solution and project services. Retail Assist can support multichannel retailers’ head offices, supply chains, websites and stores. If you are interested in our IT systems and support services you can visit our website: www.retail-assist.co.uk or get in touch, email: info@retail-assist.co.uk and telephone: 0115 853 3910. Also keep up to date with our latest news by searching ‘RetailAssist’ on Twitter and Instagram. It was a really great day and anything we can do to help raise awareness not only of Robin Hood, but also Nottingham… sign us up.…
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  • 20 Oct

Adventure Ashram’s Great Big South Indian Adventure – November 2014

Adventure Ashram is a wonderful charity whose aim is to support communities throughout India, helping to make education and healthcare accessible to the people and places that are hardest to reach. As such we are really proud to be supporting the ‘The Bullet Boys’ team on their adventures, motorcycling through India to raise funds for Adventure Ashram.   The ‘Bullet Boys’ are a group of friends who have decided to undertake an adventure that not only pushes the boundaries but also gives something back to those less fortunate than themselves. So they are taking part in a charity motorcycle ride, travelling over 2000km across Southern India in November 2014.   The ride will expose them to a huge variety of different terrains, from towns and cities to desert plains and dense forest trails, moving on to mountain passes which will prove to be a real test of endurance. The ‘Bullet Boys’ will be undertaking this challenge whist riding the famous “Royal Enfield Bullet”, a classic single cylinder 500cc bike which is now built in India. The Bullet uses 1950′s technology, so will provide another very challenging dimension to the journey. The ride will be a demanding trek on challenging bikes and will certainly test the ‘Bullet Boys’ both physically and mentally, constantly testing confidence, spirit and determination. They will be able to enjoy and experience the dramatic and amazing scenery that India has to offer but this also means they will be exposed to some extreme environments and situations; needless to say this will not be a walk in the park. Everything raised will go directly to Adventure Ashram. The ‘Bullet Boys’ are still looking for sponsors and contributions, every pound raised will really help to make a difference. Please click here if you would like to donate and help raise money for this very worthwhile cause.   Here at Retail Assist we are really looking forward to following the progress of the ‘Bullet Boys’ on their challenging journey and wish them all the best on their forthcoming adventure. We hope they not only make amazing memories but help gain the support funds they have worked so hard to obtain for Adventure Ashram’s Great Big South Indian Adventure. If you would like to read more about the Adventure Ashram charity then please click here. Also if you are interested in our IT systems and support services you can visit our website: www.retail-assist.co.uk or get in touch, email: info@retail-assist.co.uk and telephone: 0115 853 3910. Also keep up to date with our latest news by searching ‘RetailAssist’ on Twitter and Instagram.…
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