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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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Wearable Tech 2
  • 13 Oct

Wearable Technology

Thanks to numerous and continued smartphone enhancements we have become embroiled in a world of mobile connectivity. Smartphones have seen mobile phones evolve beyond being portable communication hubs, and into technical devices that allow us to source information, shop in real time and much more – at the drop of a hat. But what happens when mobile devices are no longer the only portable devices on the market, what if there was something that offered connectivity and intelligence but was also wearable and fashionable. In the past 18 months wearable technology has exploded on to the scene and I’m sure it won’t have escaped your attention how dramatic the advances in mobile technology have become. From Apple to Samsung, glasses to watches, the world of wearable connectivity is expanding rapidly – and we are interested to see what effect, if any, this will have on retailers?Salesforce recently referred to wearable technology as the new smartphone. After seeing the impact that smartphones have had on the way we shop, communicate and source data we have been opened up to an exciting new way of doing things, revolutionising customer shopping habits – allowing us to shop on the move. This made us question – how much further can we go and what exciting advances lay ahead? Berg Insight predicts that by 2017 wearable smart device sales worldwide will reach 64 million units, and retailers are getting ready to tap in to this trend. eBay, for example, recently announced a focus on bringing commerce to wearable devices and connected devices, emphasising the desire to bring commerce on to any screen imaginable. Overall it will mean more informed shoppers on the High Street, who can use connected devices to place themselves deep within the omnichannel retail journey. This can put added pressure on retailers as they must provide a compelling in-store experience to keep their bricks and mortar link in the omnichannel chain alive. Thought needs to be put into how applications on wearable technology can support and enhance customer’s entire omnichannel journey. Wearable technology will not only revolutionise the experience for consumers but can also assist retailers behind the scenes. Store staff will be able to use wearable technology to access key data from any location in the store, assist with planning, merchandising, sales marketing and many other core business functionalities. This could also assist with customer experience in store, being able to approach customers and assist them on the spot, whether they may be sourcing an item from another store or searching for items in varying sizes and colours it can really help to enhance the customer experience – with a more personal offering. The outlay cost of wearable technology in the retail sector is not something to be underestimated and would pose a significant cost. Also with this ease of access to greater amounts of information it could act as a distraction to store staff – so there would have to be some consideration when rolling out in store that…
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  • 6 Oct

Celebrating 5 Years of Mint Velvet

After recently celebrating our own 15th Birthday we know how important every year is, and we are very excited for our customer, Mint Velvet, who will soon be celebrating their 5th Birthday. The Mint Velvet story began with three women, inspired by a desire for something new, who wanted to create a clothing collection which was both relaxed and glamorous, but sill at affordable prices. With a specific target audience, working mothers with modern lifestyles, they wanted to create something that worked with their demanding lifestyles and from this Mint Velvet was born. Mint Velvet believes that clothing should help make the women that wear them feel confident and gorgeous; whilst still fitting in to busy and active lifestyles. Mint Velvet launched in 2009, and in this same year we also began to work together. For Mint Velvet we provide a Managed Solution to include our Merret merchandising and warehousing solution, Triquestra’s Infinity PoS, plus complete IT support services. In 2010 ourselves and Mint Velvet won “Project Implementation of the Year” at the Retail Week Technology Awards for our project implementation success, and later that year went on to be shortlisted for ‘IT Project of the Year’ at the Retail Systems Awards. With award wins, and instant success in their initial House of Fraser concession openings, the Mint Velvet brand soon rolled out to further premium department stores, and the brand’s transactional website: mintvelvet.co.uk. The Managed Solution we provide for Mint Velvet delivered the foundations to support a growing business from the outset. Our solution combines all the required hardware, software and services in a single package and is integrated with store EPos and website. As a scalable solution Mint Velvet have found this to be extremely beneficial as they have under gone a huge expansion process throughout the last 5 years and have a further 4 stores opening within the year. Having achieved so much within their first 5 years we are not only proud to be able to say that we work with Mint Velvet but are also very excited to see what they achieve in the next 5 years. Happy Birthday Mint Velvet xxx If you would like any further information about any of our services then you can visit our website: www.retail-assist.co.uk or call us on: +44 (0) 115 853 3910. You can also search for us on Twitter and Instagram for all the latest news from Retail Assist.…
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Retail Assist 2012 Restructure
  • 29 Sep

We Welcome Matthew Proudlove as our new Chief Finance Officer

This month we welcome Matthew Proudlove to the Board as our new Chief Finance Officer (CFO). After graduating from Warwick University, with a degree in German and Business, Matthew has gone on to gain valuable business and finance experience in Europe and the UK. Matthew trained and qualified as a Chartered Accountant, spending time in Germany, Austria, and the UK. He then spent 13 years in corporate finance where he was involved in corporate acquisitions, company sales and management buy outs. Matthew joins us from The Real Yorkshire Pudding Company where he was CFO since 2012. Matthew Proudlove, comments: “I see massive growth potential for Retail Assist and can’t wait to get started and make steps towards supporting the expansion of the company. I have always had an interest in retail and enjoy the fast-paced nature of the sector; I look forward to the challenges ahead.” Our Retail Assist Board first met Matthew in 2010 when he worked in corporate finance. Alan Morris, Executive Chairman, comments: “We are delighted that Matthew has joined the team as we continue to build on our growth strategy. Through our previous business relationships with him we knew he was a strong fit for Retail Assist, and look forward to working with him.” Morris adds: “It is with Matthew’s skills and experience within the finance sector, coupled with his enthusiasm that he will help the board to move forward and achieve our business vision.” Matthew’s previous experience in corporate finance, where he worked in both practice and industry means that he has a wealth of knowledge and experience in growing companies. With a keen interest in the IT sector Matthew will be a great attribute not only to our finance department but to the business as a whole. Tim Moxon, our current Chief Finance Officer will leave Retail Assist on Friday 3rd October once he has affected a handover to Matthew. Tim comments: “I will be leaving Retail Assist in order to pursue potential opportunities to work with small sized businesses on a reduced working hour’s basis.” Morris concludes: “Tim has made a considerable contribution to the success of the business over the past 10 years and he leaves with our sincere thanks and best wishes for the future.”…
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  • 29 Sep

The Retail Assist Sailing Event 2014

With the wind in our hair and regular tea breaks the annual Retail Assist sailing event was a great day out for both Retail Assist team members and customers. We set sail from Hamble Yacht Services in Hampshire for a full day of sailing adventures. As in other years we sailed with the Blue Box Sailing Company on their 64ft yacht, and believe you me we definitely had to do our bit as crew members.The yacht we sailed on was the Whitbread 60 Blueprint, formerly known as the Intrum Justitia and was built in 1992 for the 1993/4 Whitbread Around the World Race. As you can imagine we were all very excited to get aboard such a legendary boat. It doesn’t matter if you’re a complete novice (like myself) or an experienced sailor, you can try your hand at steering, hoisting and trimming the sails and leading the ropes. It was a very hands on day – and we loved it!We met our customers at the Marina and headed on to the yacht. After a talk from the crew in regards to safety and a tour of the boat, including how to use the rather scary looking toilet, we slipped lines and motored out of the River Hamble to the famous waters of the Solent where the real fun began. With all hands on deck we had to take turns in grinding (it’s tough work) to hoist the main sail, wind up ropes and get to grips with the steering.The route for the day consisted of sailing through the forts in the Eastern Solent into the English Channel and sailing round the Nab tower lighthouse and back. Obviously the exact course is decided on the day as it is weather dependent but we were lucky enough with the weather to stick with the predetermined route.Once lunch had been eaten and more tea had been drunk we made a U-turn and proceeded home. With a day of sailing and boat manoeuvres under our belts, we arrived back outside the River Hamble and dropped the sails before motoring back up the River to the Marina.Once we had said a massive thank you to the crew from Blue Box who really helped to make our day memorable, and of course said goodbye to the yacht we headed back to the hotel, the Botleigh Grange Hotel and Spa, where we all enjoyed a well-earned drink. After freshening up and sitting down to dinner we all proceeded to chat about the day’s adventure and enjoy a relaxed evening meal.The sailing event provides a great way to socialise with our customers, developing relations away from the working environment. The 2014 sailing trip was a great success and we look forward to ‘setting sail’ again very soon. If you would like to see a video from one of our previous sailing events, please click here to access our Retail Assist YouTube channel, and if you would like to see the yacht…
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  • 22 Sep

Merret User Day 2014

It’s important for us to involve our user base in the development of our solutions, to ensure we continue to develop a product which is aligned to the requirements of the user community. As such last week we hosted our annual ‘Merret User Day’ to encourage all of our Merret customers to come together and discuss current and future Merret functionality. On the day a number of members from the Merret community attended including; Mint Velvet, East, Oasis, Warehouse, Karen Millen, Coast, Jacques Vert, Harvey Nichols, Morrisons, Paperchase, and Whistles.The day itself was organised and facilitated by Retail Assist members but driven by the needs of the Merret users, with much time for questions and discussions, to address any areas of Merret that was of primary focus for our customers. The ‘Merret User Day’ enables us to develop further efficiencies and grow functionality to meet customer expectations. With contributions from retailers with differing requirements it helps us to generate a better service across retailing channels from omnichannel retailers to pure play e-tailers, helping us improve our service but also helping them achieve their business targets. During the day we discussed a number of key points and we wanted to share them with you.Following an introduction to the day from Robin Coles, our Head of Product Strategy Nigel Illingworth, Chief Executive Officer – Solutions, continued with Merret ‘The Last Year’, highlighting Merret’s;Rich omnichannel functions Ability to work intuitively with 3rd parties Real time omnichannel functionalityHe then moved on to discuss Merret’s flexible approach and ability to respond to change and growth and this is where the Merret community were given the opportunity to engage and discuss their requirements from Merret during the last year. Following on from this we were delighted to have customer presentations from Anne Sinclair, Multichannel Director of Coast, Oasis, Karen Millen and Warehouse regarding the journey of omnichannel retailing. Then from Grant Henderson, Project Manager at Coast, Oasis, Karen Millen and Warehouse, and Rob Scott our Technical Services Manager, regarding their experiences and advice for a tablet roll-out across a 750 store estate. The focus of the afternoon was ‘Merret the Future’ where we explored the future Merret roadmap. At which priorities for future development were revealed and discussed with clients, to ensure it aligned with their own requirements. The day was concluded with partner presentations and it was lovely to be able to welcome along 4 differing companies that each brought a new and exciting element to the day, but that could all complement our Merret supply chain solution. We had teams from; Momentis, a Canadian based company, InovRetail from Portugal, Triquestra and Powatag. Not only did this add an extra dynamic to the day but it was also so interesting to see what these companies did and how they could work with Merret to provide additional functionality. Keep an eye out for guest blogs rounding up these partner presentations – there are some very interesting findings. We took a lot away…
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