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retail technology news
  • 30 Aug

Latest Retail Technology News

It’s been a bumper August for Retail Assist retail technology news, so we wanted to bring you the latest in today’s blog. Harvey NicholsWe were proud to announce news of our latest Merret upgrade project with iconic luxury brand, Harvey Nichols. We’ve supported them since 2004, and as the relationship continues it’s been fantastic to grow the brand’s omnichannel capabilities with Merret. In the latest version of Merret, based in the cloud, Harvey Nichols has experienced the benefits of real-time stock availability, allowing them to fulfil the omnichannel customer promise 24 x 7 across the globe. Technology Director, Fatima Zada, said: “The Merret upgrade provides much more in terms of scalability, as our international growth trajectory and ecommerce offer goes from strength to strength. Retail Assist facilitated our journey into omnichannel over 10 years ago, and the recent project has created a solid foundation for our growth vision going forward.” To read the full press release click here. Bidvest Logistics Although Bidvest is in the logistics sector, IT is a key driver of their business. As IT specialists, we’re supporting Bidvest to retain a competitive edge, enabling them to be agile and meet the demands of its customers, for example, servicing 12,000 deliveries a week. Our 24 x 7 IT Help Desk service also helps Bidvest reap the benefits of greater systems uptime. Bidvest renewed their Managed IT Services contract with us this year for another 5 years. Since virtualising Bidvest’s key server environment in 2013, we’ve supported Bidvest Logistics on numerous projects to improve performance and maximise productivity. In a project to upgrade disk storage for increased systems performance, Bidvest’s warehouse management system, Minster, experienced a 40% decrease in the time taken to complete overnight scheduling. In a recent server upgrade, we were also able to reduce Bidvest’s disaster recovery time from 4 hours to just 15 minutes. This has had a very significant impact, and represents just one of many benefits. To read the full press release click here. Oasis and WarehouseThis summer we supported the launch of Oasis and Warehouse’s new websites, after re-platforming them on to Demandware. The new ecomm platform enhances the customer experience in new and sophisticated ways. Thanks to the single stock pool of our supply chain solution, Merret, Oasis launched ship-from-store in 2012 and gains stock visibility updates every 10-15 minutes. It really capitalises on this retail advantage through the new ‘shop by store’ online tool, where customers can search specific stores and concessions for available products with real-time inventory. “So if you’re researching to go to the Argyll Street store at lunch time, you can select black dresses, in a size eight, which are available in that store […] this is something I haven’t seen at any fashion retailers I’ve been shopping on – it’s valuable and it’s useful.” – Briony Garbett, Director of Digital at Oasis. Using stores as distribution hubs through ship-from-store has also delivered 20-30% incremental web sales for the brand. To read the full press…
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retail it solutions
  • 22 Aug

4 weeks until Nexpo

With just 4 weeks to go until we unveil Nexpo, our pop-up retail technology store at Hoxton Arches, London, retailers and hospitality businesses are signing up to be taken on an immersive and interactive customer journey of the future.  We’re proud to partner with our customer, Karen Millen, who will be showcasing their latest collection, as well as cutting edge technology they’re already invested in, for a first class customer experience. So, if you’re looking to invest in RFID, mobile payments, fitting room technology, beacons, in-store atmospherics, tablet inventory technology, and omnichannel integration – and more importantly, how to integrate this technology within your own stores today – come down and see us. If you’re a retailer in a position to influence technology within your business, sign up now. With attendance from leading UK and international fashion, footwear, lifestyle and beauty retailers, there is also the fantastic opportunity to network with like-minded retailers, as well as exhibiting partners. Thursday and Friday 4pm tours are almost full; we have availability left on Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm. Don’t miss your chance to experience Nexpo.  …
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retail IT solutions
  • 15 Aug

Do we really need to “save” the high street?

News dominating the retail headlines this week: the high profile closure of BHS’ flagship store on Oxford Street. Videos of the last minute shut-down scramble for 80% discounted goods, and the shutters finally closing on the crumbling, 88 year old brand. The last of BHS’s total 163 stores are scheduled to close on August 20th. Commentary from John Ryan at Retail Week puts BHS’s demise down to “falling behind”: “Cue lamentations and commentary asking how this could have happened. It happened, bluntly, because both shops and stock weren’t, latterly, up to much“And yet, track back just one week – we had glowing reports of a sunny July accounting for a retail sales rebound of 1.1 per cent, and a recovering high street. On a total basis, sales rose 1.9 per cent, against a 2.2 cent increase in July 2015. Nonetheless, the BRC said this was the “strongest growth since January”.So, does the high street really need “saving”, as many daily papers have headlined for the past year? We think it requires a more sophisticated approach. In today’s omnichannel world, the store needs to be much more than just a store. In a recent survey we conducted, we found that the biggest High St advocates were Gen Z – the up and coming younger generation, with a newly found spending power and a connectedness across all channels. 84% of them see shopping as part of their day out activities, and so the customer experience must be prioritised. With a growing appetite for convenience, and a need for seamless digital integration, stores need to become a critical part of your retail strategy to service the “need it now” desire. Product showing as out of stock online? It shouldn’t be, if the product is hanging in abundance in one of your stores. Not available in-store? There should be the ‘endless aisle’ option to shop your entire inventory in-store on responsive tablets. As always, it’s about joining up your retail offering across channels, ensuring that your stock is visible in real time, inventory is flexible ready to fulfil orders across any channel. As Retail Week’s latest industry snapshot revealed (LCP Consulting Report), retailers with omnichannel capabilities are twice as likely to report double digit growth. If you’re looking for technologies that will influence the future customer journey, sign up for our latest event: a concept pop-up technology store, in partnership with Karen Millen. Coming to Hoxton for just 3 days only 21st-23rd September, retailers are signing up to be taken on an interactive experience, with in-store technology that is affordable, easily deployable, and available now. Registration for a Nexpo tour can be completed in just 1 minute, using the following link: www.retail-assist.co.uk/nexpo…
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international help desk support
  • 8 Aug

International Help Desk Support

Who’s looking after your IT systems overseas? Wouldn’t it be great to have the peace of mind that everything is looked after, 24 x 7. Commerce stops for nobody. If no one’s ensuring maximum uptime of your IT systems, you could be risking lost sales, and a negative customer experience. Our international Help Desk support enables you to trade without disruption or downtime. Cover is as much or as little as required: if you wish to boost support during seasonal periods of peak trading, add multilingual support for your international stores, or outsource resource outside of the traditional 9-5 remit, we’re here to help deliver your exact requirements. Pizza Hut Restaurants, Bidvest Logistics, Karen Millen and World Duty Free Group are just some of the brands we support, who are reaping the benefits of reduced disruption to service.If you have a global store estate, or international expansion is on the horizon, having a globally minded service desk may be critical for your growing IT and technology infrastructure. When outsourcing your IT support to Retail Assist, not only will you benefit from a shared service model, but also a fixed fee; our cost-effective approach means that you are not charged per incident. For example, last year, though the number of stores we support increased by 8%, the number of incidents our customers experienced fell by 10%. With international expansion across nine territories and the acquisition of 4 cinema groups, Vue Cinemas came to us in 2009 for IT support services to support their rapidly expanding cinema estate and IT infrastructure. With increased business reliance on IT, Vue identified a critical need for a more streamlined support services network: one service desk to own all calls, and one number for staff to call. Retail Assist’s IT Help Desk will be on the other end of the phone to efficiently resolve any IT or systems issues that disrupt trading; whatever the time, whatever the location. 40% of our expert team is bilingual, ensuring better relationships with store teams on the ground across the globe. Our international Help Desk support provides 24×7 IT support through a single point of contact to over 30 customers in a wide range of business sectors. In this way, we enable brands to provide the best experience for their customers, maximising sales whilst minimising disruption. There’s a big market to engage, so ensure you’re supported to position your brand in the best possible way!   …
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retail it solutions
  • 1 Aug

Nexpo: for next gen retailing

To read the official Nexpo launch press release, click here. For the Nexpo website page, and to register for the event, click here.“Store of the future” has become a buzzword term over the last year, as technology vendors across the UK and Europe have showcased the “latest” or “future” technologies to “impact” retailers, providing us with a vision of what “tomorrow’s retail” will look like set up in a mock-up store environment. Unfortunately, this has often featured technology of the kind that is too expensive to deploy as the “standard” brand experience, hinging on one-off gratification for the customer. As a forward-thinking business, with an ability to identify and respond to real, contemporary issues in retail – stock visibility, falling footfall, discounting – we understand that any technology implementation project must have real benefit, and not just another in-store gimmick for consumers to toy with. So, these events got us thinking: why hasn’t there yet been a showcase of retail technology that integrates with your current software, that is available to implement now, that is easily deployable, with real, measurable benefits that impact retailers’ key pain points? This September, in a pop-up space in Shoreditch, Retail Assist is partnering with Karen Millen to bring you Nexpo: a concept store for retailers to experience the ultimate achievable customer experience, now. Nexpo is an interactive, live demo store environment that will provide solutions to the following questions:How do I maximise relevant, usable technology in the fitting room space, without gimmicks like magic mirrors? How do I integrate the ability to shop my online stock when in the store environment? How do I utilise data (customer profile, loyalty) and analytics, in order to provide an engaging, but comfortable, customer experience? And more . . .Joining forces with leading global technology companies such as InovRetail, Enactor, Vodat, Vista, Adyen, DB Pixelhouse and Catalyst, our concept store will demonstrate retailing experiences through guided tours, to help you understand how technology can assist with this future journey. When? Wednesday 21st – Friday 23rd September Where? Hoxton Arches, Arch 402, Cremer Street, London, E2 8HD Spaces are filling fast, and booking onto tour slots is obligatory – tours run twice daily at 4pm and 6pm. Make sure to register at www.retail-assist.co.uk/nexpo, or to find out more about the event and partners, and the technology we’ll be demonstrating, call our Head of Marketing Alex Broxson on 0115 904 2713.…
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pokemon go
  • 25 Jul

Why Pokémon Go is more than just a game

If you’ve noticed rare groupings of millennials roaming the outside world in the last week or so, excitably shouting “Charizard!” seemingly at thin air, the likelihood is you’ve witnessed the latest gaming phenomenon to hit the UK: Pokémon Go. Since Pokémon Go launched, a couple of weeks ago in the US and a week ago in the UK, it already has circa 21 million daily active users in the States, knocking the popularity crown from Candy Crush, previously the most widely played game to date. Pokémon Go is free to play and accessible for anyone with a camera enabled smart phone: a demographic totalling approximately 5 billion people worldwide. Usage data released by SensorTower has revealed that the average iPhone user already spends 33 minutes and 25 seconds a day on Pokémon Go, which is greater than Facebook (22 minutes), Snapchat (18 minutes), Twitter (17 minutes and 56 seconds) and Instagram (15 minutes).What’s clear, is that Pokémon Go has made AR technology a part of an everyday experience: including smart phone use, Google Maps, and gaming. It has smashed AR critics, who thought the technology could only come to mass adoption stage unless VR headsets or Google Glass took off (the former – too expensive; the latter – now discontinued). The key with Pokémon Go and AR is its accessibility. So how does it all work? Pokémon Go integrates the real world (reflected by Google Maps) within the virtual Poke-universe, projecting it through your smartphone. Users explore the world around them with AR (augmented reality) presenting the opportunity to “catch”, “train” and “trade” Pokémon monsters. Pokestops, which provide critical in-game resources, are positioned in the real world at notable landmarks, as well as within businesses such as pubs and restaurants. And what’s this got to go with retail? The following quote is one that should make retail and hospitality businesses sit up and take notice. Pokémon Go is quite a big deal: “In the history of the internet and consumer tech, nothing has had an adoption of more than 100 million global users in six days. The last record was Candy Crush – that took one year and three months to reach the same level.” – Ambarish Mitra, CEO, Blippar. Smarter businesses have already caught onto the in-game ‘Lure’ item – which attracts Pokémon to a specific location for 30 minutes for all users of the game, costing £1.58/hour – using it to tempt potential customers through their doors. The launch of Pokémon Go in Japan, the birthplace of Pokémon, saw the first and biggest “tie up” deal yet: full sponsorship by McDonalds, in its 3000 restaurants throughout the country. If its aim is to lure more customers to eat, it looks like it’s working…Using AR to lure potential customers in hospitality is also evidenced by the effect of Pokestops within Costa Coffees. Costa reported a 30% increase in footfall across its Pokémon seeking stores, resulting in a 10% sales uplift on the day of launch. As in…
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retail it services
  • 19 Jul

The future of retail as seen in Porto: II

Last week, our Chairman Alan Morris visited our partners Inovretail in Porto to share our ideas and discuss innovation in retail, and talk about latest retail technology news. Firstly, congratulations are in order to Inovretail, who have been invested in by Sonae IM! It’s great to see such an innovative business being invested in by Sonae, who have a mission to support and build world-class tech companies. We’re proud to have partnered with Inovretail last year to launch our Analytics module, which you can read about here. So, what’s new in retail technology? Customer Experience LabInovretail’s Customer Experience Lab was a big takeaway from the trip, which forms a critical part of any retailer’s in-store analytics. In establishing a baseline of store performance, proactive data analysis forms clear methods for increasing the store’s efficiency, and developing more opportunities to sell more stock, increasing profits. In recent years, with digital presence dominating the agenda, retailers’ website analytics have been prioritised. Web visits, heat mapping, basket analysis, and of course the crucial conversion rate – the number of visitors that make a sale – this wealth of information has informed digital team’s approaches to online retailing. But what about the store? Is your in-store environment analysed in the same way in which your website might be? In most cases the answer is no, and as such, your conversion rate will be jeopardised by a huge margin. There’s much to learn from in-store behaviour. UK retail footfall fell by 2.8% year-on-year in June 2016, marking the sharpest decline since February 2014, and the poorest monthly result for more than two years. Although this is due to post-Brexit fallout and low consumer confidence, retailers need to do all they can in stores to increase their conversion rate. The store is an asset, and must be maximised. So, how can you offset the effects of falling footfall within the store? The key is understanding how it works in order to sell more: increase basket value, and increase conversion rate. For example, customers who use a fitting room are 71% more likely to buy, according to Inovretail’s data research. Their technology, See Wall, is an innovative fitting room software that revolutionises the in-store experience. Removing the customer need to call a sales assistant, awkward and half-dressed, for another size, they simply touch a tablet inside their booth which sends an automatic message to sales assistants on the shop floor via wearable tech. Given that trying something on increases likelihood of conversion, this is a crucial aspect of store shopping that Inovretail is making more effective. In addition, through the use of technology, the fitting room can be transformed from a private space into an interactive arena to upsell to the customer. If the dress fits, why not project a shoppable selection of matching shoes, or accessories, available with just a touch? Fitting rooms apps should be used as a selling aid, as well as a customer experience enabler. As well as identifying opportunities to improve…
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Creative Class 2016
  • 11 Jul

Nottingham’s Creative Class 2016: The Event

Last week Retail Assist was named one of Nottingham’s Creative Class 2016! This means we have been recognised as one of ten Nottinghamshire companies highlighted for their growth, innovation and creativity.Nottingham Means Business hosted an unveiling event for the 10 winning businesses, on the evening of Thursday 7th July at the Nottingham Contemporary, and we wanted to give you an insight into the evening. After some initial official photography, the evening began with drinks and canapes.  Following this our Head of Project Services, Kevin Greathead, graced the stage for a question and answer session, where he told fellow Creative Class and Nottingham Means Business members about Retail Assist’s journey as a business. Here’s some of his answers and discussion that took place on the stage:What do Retail Assist do? “We’re all about supporting retailers/hospitality operators and managing IT services for them, allowing them to be innovative and push through with their business and customer growth plans. We originally started with a small office in Bingham, and now have 6 different sites over the UK.” “We play the part of the glue between the retailer/hospitality operator and technology. Retail Assist was created in 1999 because we recognised a niche in the market, where retailers needed someone to help implement their IT systems quickly and cost effectively.” Innovation “Retail and hospitality are fast paced industries. As the market moves faster, we want to help develop systems to keep this pace, and innovation is really key to us. For example, we work with a company called Shutl, who offer 90 minute delivery for online retailing. As retailing never stops, we are supporting retailers 24x7x365.” Internationalisation “We support 8,100 outlets across the globe and 1/3 of our Help Desk team speak foreign languages. We’re talking to people in their languages as we know it is key to give them the right support when they need it. Karen Millen use our Help Desk’s specialist French language support, and experienced a 55% reduction in average call resolution time as a result.” Experience “We are a real advocate of trying to work with retailers in the city. For example, we’ll have people from our Help Desk go to Pizza Hut restaurants to work with the store teams, to see how they do things. It helps educate our team to give them front line experience, whilst creating great relationships with our customers.” Following Kevin’s session on stage we heard from the other 9 members of the Creative Class, and it was inspiring to hear such positive stories of growth and innovation coming from the city. Thank you to Nottingham Means Business and the Creative Quarter for this fantastic recognition. We look forward to the year ahead as part of Nottingham’s Creative Class. Should you want to hear more of our story and how we are providing support to leading retail and hospitality businesses just get in touch on 0115 904 2777 or info@retail-assist.co.uk. The Usual Suspects… L-R Alex Broxson – Head of Marketing, Kevin Greathead –…
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retail IT solutions
  • 4 Jul

RA Summer Event 2016

Last week, we celebrated our Annual Summer Event with our customers; retailers and hospitality brands that we’re proud to support with our IT services and solutions. Many thanks to those who joined us for drinks and bowling at All Star Lanes on Brick Lane! We had a great evening, and hope that you did too. Of course, a Retail Assist event wouldn’t be complete without some fun, so our bowling competition provided great entertainment, plus some top-class cocktails thanks to our dedicated mixologist! We’re pleased to announce that Pizza Hut were the overall winners of the bowling event. Congratulations! 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 next client events! We have long-standing relationships with our customers, spanning up to 15 years. 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 and hospitality IT package. Not only can we manage the full implementation process of retail IT solutions, but we will also support your business with our Managed Services. All of this, 24×7×365, across the globe with multilingual support.…
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Retail Concession Expansion
  • 27 Jun

Global growth & retail concession expansion with Ra-X

When you operate retail stores overseas, be it solus, concession or franchise, translating your sales data to your central base is a critical process. Many retailers suffer the consequences of manual processing, and the inability to have a 100% accurate, complete view of all sales. In today’s global 24 x 7 trading environment, making key business decisions based on less than 100% of your real-time sales data is inexcusable. Ra-X, our data exchange solution, is allowing retailers to break new markets overseas with low risk, and develop concession and franchise presence, thanks to its reliability, dependability, and resilience. Here’s how our solution enabled Cath Kidston to expand their international presence, launching new stores in Asia last year.View the video on your YouTube channel here. Currently, Ra-X supports over 3,300 stores in 66 countries, and trades with more than 70 different partners. Internationally they include Alshaya, El Cortes Ingles, Bloomingdales, Karstadt, Galleries Lafayette and more. In the UK, our Ra-X customers trade within John Lewis, House of Fraser, Harrods, Selfridges, Debenhams and more. If you’re considering global growth, engaging more franchise/concession partners, retail concession expansion, opening new stores, or maximising the efficiency of your current global operations, Ra-X is for you. Our customers using Ra-X include White Stuff, Oasis, Karen Millen, Debenhams, Warehouse, Reiss, Paperchase, Mint Velvet, Jacques Vert, Coast and more. Here’s some of the key benefits they state of using Ra-X to trade efficiently:Working with international trading partners and developing better relationships: Ra-X gives you a competitive advantage due to the ease with which it operates. Removes barriers to entry: outside of the UK, retail sales are highest in China, expecting to lead sales into 2018. Are you trading in these areas? If not, Ra-X allows you make profitable decisions when it’s critical. Global growth without the associated price tag: our SaaS model – fixed cost, no capital outlay, no increase in IT headcount and no hardware/software costs – makes Ra-X the most cost-effective way to quickly gain trading information to make globally minded business decisions.Don’t wait to implement your global growth plans, drive retail concession expansion, and improve the performance of your current international trading strategy. If you require further information about how Ra-X can help, email info@retail-assist.co.uk or call +44 (0)115 904 2777.…
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