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omnichannel supply chain solution
  • 8 Feb

Ship-from-store: in pictures

Latest Retail Week research reveals that 38% of retailers were transitioning to omnichannel last year, a business change process we’re carrying out with many retail brands, implementing our omnichannel supply chain solution: Merret. Our end-to-end solution enables 100% visibility of stock across all retail channels, and uses smart, real-time inventory management, to facilitate important retail processes that increase profitability. One of these is ship-from-store. Here’s how ship-from-store works, in pictures:Using individual stores as virtual distribution hubs is key to ensuring orders are fulfilled in the most cost-efficient way, preventing overstocking and stockholding. This is by making stock readily available where it’s needed most. Maximising profitability through full price trade, and reducing discounting, are the benefits being experienced by leading retail brands, including Karen Millen, Whistles, Mint Velvet and Paperchase. You can read about our latest Merret project with Karen Millen here. Want to know more? Simply email info@retail-assist.co.uk with your enquiry, or call our Head Office on +44 (0)115 8533910 to speak with one of our team.…
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IBM Watson
  • 1 Feb

What does 2016 have in store for customer experience?

As part of our post-NRF blog focus, we wanted to bring you another one of our takeaways for the future of retail technology in 2016. Me-centricity is one of the “buzzword” terms being used to describe the refined focus on the customer, as their desires and demands for a personalised experience have increased. If retailers have been successful in provoking the ‘desire to acquire’ in the consumer, the next step is the drive to provide them with as much information as they require – product info, live reviews, suitability for weather conditions, etc. This personalised information gathering must work with the same success across all channels. Our video footage of IBM’s Watson with North Face at 1 min 15 secs, an artificially intelligent shopping assistant, works online for shoppers the same way as real store assistants in the bricks and mortar environment, mimicking the processes and decisions that a human would make to give personal recommendations based on real scenarios.When shoppers go online, these types of conversation help to promote real brand engagement. This is already an easy experience to have with a store assistant in the shop, when they know their product, and are efficient at carrying out retail processes for the customer, for example, if the customer wants the item ordering and delivering to their home. As well as improving the store environment, the store needs to play a key role in supply chain processes. See our blog on the role of ship-from-store in facilitating greater profitability through maximising full-price selling, using the store as a virtual DC. 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. We can help. If you’re planning to transition to an omnichannel model of retailing, get in touch with us to discuss Merret, our omnichannel supply chain solution, and the retailers we’re working with that are using it. Just contact us via this quick form, or call Head Office on +44 115 853 3910 to speak with one of our team.…
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  • 25 Jan

Retail Assist at NRF 2016: Top 5 Technologies

In search of the latest retail tech innovations, and the bright lights of New York City, Retail Assist recently attended the NRF 2016 Expo, Retail’s BIG Show. You might have caught up with our experiences on the Show floor this year, by way of our live vlogs. Our Head of Marketing, Alex Broxson, gave a fantastic insight into some of the technologies the team were impressed by. Click to watch the vlogs from day 1 and day 2. We also wanted to round off our NRF experience in today’s blog. So – what is likely to “change the face of the retail world” as the next BIG thing for retail technology? Nothing too out of the ordinary. The main trend we witnessed was data, or rather, the ways in which data is being analysed, mined and used to understand the customer and provide a more personalised experience. We have all seen futuristic technologies, but they can often be too gimmicky or cost prohibitive, and we were pleased to see more realistic presentation of what retailers could have in their stores today. The most promising aspect of this year’s NRF Expo was that the attention was focussed on making the store an integral part of the supply chain, by way of in-store customer experience as well as supply chain processes, which will equate to greater profitability for omnichannel retailers. Here are our Top 5 Technologies: 1) IBM Watson Watson is a fine example of cognitive computing: a system that learns and builds a high-powered database, enabling it to respond to questions and situations with a learned set of responses. The example we saw, in collaboration with North Face, is featured below from 1 minute 10 seconds onwards. The customer is going on holiday to Jackson Hole in February, and Watson showcases the most appropriate jackets for the conditions, without having been asked to. This is an example of utilising Watson from a customer perspective, but retailers could use Watson to predict sales performance, through integrating customer data, behavioural patterns and social media. Pre-season planning and merchandising would be more efficient using Watson to anticipate trends and respond more effectively for greater profitability. 2) Virtual Reality We were impressed by Oculus Rift at last year’s show, (read our excitable first introduction to VR here), but this year featured a more integrated customer journey from Virgin Atlantic. VR was used to showcase their first class customer experience, from the limousine to the airport, the airport lounge, and in-flight experience. What the hospitality business has latched on to is the use of VR to sell a particular service: holidays in particular benefit from the “you don’t have to be there to go there” concept that VR facilitates. However, retailers are selling a material product, more than an experience or service. In this case, VR needs to be fine-tuned to selling the end product as well as the retail service in-store. We think we’ll see retailers address this throughout 2016. Perhaps the transactional element needs to…
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NRF Retail Assist Day 2 Vlog
  • 20 Jan

Retail Assist at NRF 16: Round Up Vlog

Here’s the second vlog instalment from NRF Expo 2016, brought to you by our Head of Marketing, Alex Broxson. We’ve seen so much retail tech innovation that we’d love to see integrated into the omni customer experience. So, if you couldn’t make it to the Show this year, and want to get our expert insight into some impressive retail technology, just watch our vlog below. Day 2’s round-up features Virgin Atlantic’s VR tech, smart wearables, smart tables & RFID and handy delay mirrors. You can replay our Day 1 round-up here.  …
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NRF team RA
  • 19 Jan

Retail Assist at NRF 16: Day 1 Vlog

Watch our latest vlog from the NRF Expo 2016, brought to you by our Head of Marketing, Alex Broxson. The team are enjoying checking out retail tech innovations on the Show floor, so stay tuned for further insights! Follow our live NRF updates on Twitter, by searching the hashtag #RAnrf16 @RetailAssist.…
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Merret Tablet Inventory
  • 18 Jan

What is Ship from Store?

What is Ship from Store? How do I implement Ship from Store? What are the benefits of Ship from Store? Read on to find out more about the most profitable fulfilment method for the omnichannel world: we’re helping leading retail brands achieve this. Definition: Ship from Store is a fulfilment process, by which retailers use stock from their store estate to fulfil orders. As a truly omnichannel process, the orders might have come from any channel, for example the website. Fulfilling orders in this way makes the store into a virtual distribution hub.Ship from Store benefits retailers in a number of ways. Firstly, it’s an efficient way to use stock, by preventing stores from unprofitable stockholding. For example, your flagship store might sell out of the new range bestseller, whereas a smaller store could end up with a surplus that are difficult to sell. Rather than having to discount this stock, retailers can maximise full-price selling through using the store inventory to fulfil orders, rather than sourcing the same item from the Distribution Centre (DC). Retailers can prevent frustrating web “out-of-stock” situations: just because an item might not be available in the DC, it might be hanging on a rail in-store, dressing a mannequin, or have been returned to a store. This captures sales that might otherwise have been lost. Using store inventory to fulfil web orders of products that are out of stock at Distribution Centres results in immediate revenue boosts of up to 10%-20% by making more inventory available for sale. Online sales at American Apparel have increased by 30% since they started using their stores as “backup fulfilment centres” (Kurt Salmon “Why Ship from Store”). Overall shipping costs for the retailer also experience a decrease, as despatches from the DC reduce dramatically. In short, the store must become a critical part of retailers’ omnichannel processes. Ship from Store could increase sales by an average of 20%. For a £50 million turnover retailer, that would mean an extra £27,000 in sales every day (ecommerce Week). Furthermore, industry insiders see overall sales increases of 10-40%: circulating inventory within all channels increases margins by 1-3% whilst reducing the likelihood of inventory markdowns by 10-15%. (BirdDog “Benefits of having a Ship from Store Strategy”). We’ve worked hard on Ship from Store strategy, to engineer our solution with the following points in mind;Ensuring that the appropriate algorithms are in place to ship from the most appropriate store locations, to maintain stock availability at the most prominent and profitable stores, and source from the most viable locations. Additional load to the store must be appreciated. Ensure that staff are trained effectively and ready to cope with the potential demand placed on stores for picking, packing and despatching stock. Ensuring that stores embrace Ship from Store as a cultural change rather than see it as a hindrance. As such, procedures need to be in place to ensure that the store picking, packing and despatching the stock gets credited for the sale. Also,…
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NRF logo
  • 11 Jan

NRF Expo 2016

The Retail Assist team is gearing up for Retail’s biggest show in New York – NRF Expo is now less than a week away. If you’re also heading out to New York and would like to meet up with our team members whilst there – Alan Morris, Borys Krywyj, Roger Bannister, Renato Pastorino and Alex Broxson – please get in touch. Just email info@retail-assist.co.uk to schedule a time to meet, or fill out our contact form here, and we will be in touch to arrange a meet up. We’ll be there surrounding all events beginning on Sunday 17th – Tuesday 19th January 2016. It’s always great to see faces old and new at NRF Expo, so don’t be a stranger! And of course, if you’re a NY-first-timer, here’s a handy set of GIFs to make sure your city etiquette isn’t lost in translation! Don’t confuse your East Side with your West Side…In today’s blog we also wanted to bring you our predictions and expectations for some of the retail technology that might be on offer. VR Last year, we were very impressed by the introduction of virtual reality to retail trade shows, in the form of Oculus Rift.With pre-sales of Oculus Rift headsets to the general public launching just last week, experts are predicting that the VR market sales could break the $1bn barrier in 2016. The VR experience could bring a new angle to online shopping, by connecting it with the physical store in a virtual way. If VR develops a 4D sensory experience, or transactional functionality, the “you don’t have to be there to go there” concept changes the reality of the store completely. With the age of Internet, online shopping revolutionised the retail world by providing customers with the convenient option to shop from the comfort of their own homes, removing the need to visit traditional brick and mortar shops via home delivery. However, taking this concept and adding VR technology could provide an immersive and sensory experience, replicating the feelings of walking down the high street on a Christmas shopping trip, from the cold breeze on your face, to the “theatre” of the busy store itself. With an interactive option to simply reach out and put the desired items into your virtual shopping basket, VR could in this way be set to replace the web/mobile/tablet site. If this is then available to the mass market, imagine the impact on omnichannel retailing. CX Becoming a bit of a buzzword in 2015, the customer experience, or CX, is retailers’ top focus area in 2016, along with investing in retail tech infrastructure. However, we don’t expect to see any fancy “tech for tech’s sake” gadgets that don’t really enhance CX in a meaningful way, such as magic mirrors. We’d love to see advances in personalisation, which truly differentiate the customer experience in a credible manner. Using data captured from purchase history, social media, and buying behaviour, retailers can use a consumer’s likes, dislikes and demographic information, to tailor…
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Merret Tablet 1
  • 4 Jan

Challenging the gap: Women in Tech

 “It’s high time for the tech industry to talk about the growing gender divide”. We were surprised to read recent Pareto Law research that only 7% of tech positions in Europe are filled by women. LinkedIn figures reveal a similar gender gap: just 17% of people in tech roles are female and 83% male. Hoping to challenge the shortfall of women in technical roles, an investigation into our own Retail Assist teams revealed that 34% of our overall workforce is female. What’s more, our Management Team is 34% female, and our Operational Board is 20% female, bucking the national trend. Retail Assist has always advocated inspiring and empowering women in the business and in the boardroom. We’re proud that our latest appointment to Retail Assist’s Operational Board, responsible for our entire Solutions portfolio, is female. The software development industry has long been considered a male niche, and yet our female Solutions Director brings over 25 years of expert technical and management experience. Inspiring women in business must be a necessity in 2016. It’s true that 2015 was a fantastic year, with a number of ‘firsts’ for women. In the recent New Year’s Honours List, there are 578 successful women candidates, representing 48% of the total – brilliant equitable recognition. The list also sees a significant rise in the proportion of awards to women at senior levels (38% female at Knighthood/Damehood/C-level compared to only 31% female at those levels in the 2015 Birthday Honours). During the course of 2015, Libby Lane became the First Female Church of England Bishop, Susan Ridge became the First Female British Army General, and Louise Richardson became the First Female Vice-Chancellor at Oxford University. At Board Level, there are now more women on FTSE 350 boards than ever before, with representation of women more than doubling since 2011. It now stands at 26.1% on FTSE 100 boards and 19.6% on FTSE 250 boards. This beats the Davies Report target set in 2011, to see the representation of women on FTSE 100 boards at 25% by 2015. There has also been a much needed reduction in the number of all-male boards: down from 152 to 0 in 5 years in the FTSE 100. It demonstrates a profound culture change at the heart of British business, but there is still a way to go in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) sector. Let’s hope that the culture of success of women in different areas of society is interconnected, and that the empowerment of women in one industry can reinforce success of women in another, permeating deeper into the technology sector. Our Technical Services and Operations Team in Northampton is currently looking for 2 Trainee Operators to join the department, helping to support our customers around the clock. Successful applicants will receive comprehensive on-site training with the opportunity for promotion to Operator role. Find out more and apply here.   Sources: Pareto, Women on Boards  …
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  • 21 Dec

A Christmas Wish and Charitable Gifts

As the year draws to a close, and we reflect on another great year at Retail Assist, our thoughts turn to those who are more vulnerable at Christmastime. For two years now, our chosen charity has been Emmanuel House, a homelessness charity based in Nottingham City Centre. The charity provides invaluable services and support to those who are homeless or vulnerably housed in Nottingham. Founded in 1976, Emmanuel House welcomes between 60-90 visitors each weekday and 30-50 on weekends. This equates to almost 2000 visits a month, with approximately 200 new visitors each year, all of whom have complex and multiple needs. Having recently launched their ‘Cup of Kindness’ winter appeal, Emmanuel House is hoping to raise £40,000 to be able to provide visitors to Emmanuel House with food, drink, shelter and support. Last year, we donated half towards the total cost of Christmas Day at Emmanuel House. On Friday, we held a Christmas fundraising day across all our UK sites – Nottingham, Northampton, London, Stanton Harcourt – including a Christmas raffle, desk decorating competition, fuddle and Christmas Jumper Day, and have raised £1000. It’s great that this beats our fundraising total last Christmas, as we raised £750. Our Chairman, Alan Morris, said that: “Whilst we enjoy the Christmas festivities at this time of year, it’s more important than ever to remember the spirit of giving, and including those in our thoughts that are most vulnerable. With no statutory funding, Emmanuel House relies on donations, allowing the charity to continue to provide their amazing services and support to the homeless and vulnerably housed in Nottingham. Contributions will help to make a real difference on someone’s Christmas Day, in the form of a hot meal, a safe and friendly environment, and people to share the festivities with. That’s what the Cup of Kindness appeal is all about.” Here’s some photographs from across our sites, of the fundraising activities we have been up to!     …
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  • 14 Dec

NRF 2016: See you there!

As the year draws to a close and we look to the New Year, we start to plan our annual visit to the National Retail Federation’s Show and Expo in New York.It’s just a month to go until the NRF Expo, Retail’s BIG Show 2016, taking place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in NYC from Sunday 17th January – Wednesday 20th January 2016. The Show brings great opportunities to see the latest innovations in retail technology, and network with faces old and new. If you’re attending, and would like to meet up whilst in New York, please get in touch with us. We’re looking forward to arranging meet-ups with other retailers and suppliers, so just click here to schedule time to meet with the Retail Assist team. This year, we’ll be sharing our NRF experiences to bring you daily content: the best technologies and solutions from the Expo hall, interesting insights from presentations and discussions, and our opinions on the top retail trends to look out for in 2016. Make sure to look out for our live video updates, which will be published on our blog, and social media feeds. And remember to search the Twitter hashtag #nrf16 to follow the latest trends and innovations from the Show. See you there!…
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