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+44 (0)115 904 2777
  • 13 Mar

Ra-X Infographic

More and more retailers are turning to our data exchange solution, Ra-X, to manage the sales polling and data processing elements of their retail business operations, including Mint Velvet, Monsoon Accessorize, Cath Kidston, Debenhams and more. Commonly known as Retail Assist’s middleware solution, or ETL*, Ra-X has been developed to meet the needs of omnichannel retailers operating global store estates with a combination of solus, concession and franchise stores. Check out our Ra-X key stats in the infographic below:How can better connectivity empower your retail business? Connecting every element of your global operations in real time is essential for making critical decisions based on 100% of your sales data. Daily reporting gives our customers the reassurance of sales polling across their entire global store estate, including its concessions and franchises too. And if anything is not as it should be, our customers benefit from a 24 x 7 wraparound support model to notify of and fully resolve issues. Ra-X is also helping retailers to test new markets, with low risk and low cost. Watch the video below to see how Ra-X supported British lifestyle brand, Cath Kidston, to establish a presence in Japan. This is now one of their biggest markets.From considering large franchises in the Middle East, to operating pop-up or concept stores in new UK locations, Ra-X can scale and flex to suit your exact requirements. It’s our 24 x 7 support and reliability that many of our customers cite as one of the main benefits of using Ra-X. If you’d like more information about using Ra-X to support your retail operations, to secure international partners or improve data accuracy, just email marketing@retail-assist.co.uk. *(What is ETL? Extract. Transform. Load – 3 database functions that are essential in the processing of data from one place into another). GET IN TOUCH TO LEARN MORE First Name Last Name Company Email Phone How can we help you?:…
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retail IT services
  • 6 Mar

Fashion Retail Forecast 2017

Retail Week research, in partnership with Barclaycard and Rakuten Marketing, examines what fashion retailers should prepare for after a turbulent past 12 months in the sector. Retail Forecast 2017 Infographic via Retail Week.Here are our top takeaways from the infographic.Protecting your marginsAlmost half (48%) of retailers’ stock in the UK clothing market was discounted throughout 2016. Sadly, this is a growing trend that must be addressed. The total market offered at least 44% of its stock at a discount in any given month throughout the year. That’s nearly half of your entire inventory damaging margins. The profitability challenge in fashion retail must be tackled through the effective management, movement and sale of stock. Granted, this is difficult when price is consumers’ main consideration when making a purchase, and the womenswear market is rife for discounting, but steps must be taken to bolster margins and drive full price sales.Given that the fashion market is predicted to grow by 20% over the next four years, there could not be a better time to invest in your core systems to prepare you for increased demand. Retail Assist’s Merret omnichannel supply chain solution is helping retailers to increase their full price sales by making sure stock is in the right place, at the right time to fulfil omnichannel retail practice.Location, location, locationAs the stats show, customers’ willingness to buy differs greatly on location, and all retailers know how important it is to monitor sales from its different channels, as well as optimising in-store stock from flagships to regional towns, analysing where stock performs best.However, in order to achieve better inventory optimisation in this way, some retailers are falling short on two key requirements: the need for 100% stock visibility, and the ability to carry out stock movements in a timely fashion. Merret’s real time stock availability is cited by many retailers as a strong benefit of using the solution. If you’re running below optimum stock in your flagship store, for example, our Merret retail replenishment module will automatically send more stock based on your trigger levels. Ship-from-store is also a key principal in getting the right stock in the right places. 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 discounting in this way by selling stock with a holistic view of its inventory: 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.  We’re supporting 20 fashion retail brands with Merret, including ASOS, Harvey Nichols, Morrisons Nutmeg, Karen Millen and more. For more information or to discuss the points raised in this blog, contact…
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Pud Store
  • 27 Feb

The Proof is in the Pud: A Day with Fran Bishop

Such a brilliant day with @RetailAssist & my team! Thank you so much @rhiannejpoole & @KtBoo_ for helping us in getting the site ready! pic.twitter.com/F5iA1WNttc — Frances Bishop (@franbishop_) February 20, 2017A Day in the Life: Our Marketing team spend a day as store assistants with an independent childrenswear retailer. The Pud Store first caught our eye back in 2014, and from then on we’ve been strong supporters of its growth. From regional town stores to social media dominance, and a hotly anticipated ecommerce launch, the independent childrenswear retailer is going from strength to strength. The brand was founded by Fran Bishop, finalist on The Apprentice 2016, and if her dynamic and resilient personality was anything to go by, her ambitions for Pud are in very capable hands. Retail Assist’s Marketing team spent a day at The Pud Store in Newark, getting to grips with the workings of independent retail with Fran and her team.Customer Experience is keyIt’s an over-used phrase, but couldn’t be more appropriate for The Pud Store. Fran knows her customers inside and out – from the names of the people coming into her store, to their likes and dislikes – from using both her physical and social media presence. Arriving for our first morning at Pud, we find Fran speaking to her smartphone, videoing the “Deals of the Day” to be broadcast straight to her Facebook group of nearly 9000 customers. For the shoppers who prefer to buy from their mobile, Fran understands that having a store presence is not the be all and end all:  Pud makes approximately £1,200 every day just from its Facebook page. And it’s this that allows her to uphold a high street presence in Newark and Doncaster. The popularity of Fran’s daily videos, featuring her latest lines, competitions, offers, even just daily Mum observations, is something that all retailers can learn from. The videos generate interest not just in the products, but in the Pud brand itself and the fun, inclusive culture that Fran leads. It’s almost like an interactive click and collect – there’s even plans to integrate a packing area within the Newark store just to service the overwhelming demand of online orders – and it’s only set to get bigger with Pud’s ecommerce launch. Product lines are being added as we speak.However, adopting a multichannel approach to retailing, the Pud Store also prides itself on its child friendly store environments. We really enjoyed visual merchandising the store whilst the Pud team worked on fulfilling their Facebook orders and kickstarting the website. It showed that with a growing brand, the more hands on deck to focus on each element, the better the customer experience. The day is perhaps best summed up by Fran on Twitter. Thank you for having us!Things I’ve learnt today: 1) Big businesses can learn off small ones and visa versa 2) A little bit of help goes a very, very long way — Frances Bishop (@franbishop_) February 20, 2017…
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retail IT solutions
  • 20 Feb

What’s the benefit of upselling?

Upselling in retail is not a new thing: it’s been around for years as an in-store technique employed by sales assistants to boost sales and increase basket value. As footfall continues to represent a challenge for retailers, they must increase average basket size (upselling) and conversion rate, otherwise shops become an unviable asset. However, with the advent of omnichannel retailing came new ways to upsell – that perhaps aren’t as direct as face to face selling – but are now a standard part of any purchase, whether in store or online. We spoke about this on BBC Radio Nottingham last Friday, in a short interview that you can listen again to here. Interview starts at 2:54:40.Click and collectThe benefits to retailers of click and collect are not only improving footfall to stores, but the ability to make even more sales when the customer comes to collect their parcel. Thanks to technological advances in customer profiling, the store assistant could pre-identify the product purchased by the customer, and upsell by recommending complementary items. For example, if they know that the customer has bought a dress, why not recommend matching shoes upon collection, or accessories to “complete the look”? New Look reported that over the festive period, 25% of its click and collect customers made extra purchases in store, increasing the basket value by an average of £27. (There’s a reason most click and collect desks are the back of a store, requiring the customer to walk past all items in the store first before picking up their parcel…) The retailer benefits through increased basket value, and the customer receives a personalised experience that’s likely to impress them. Check out other click and collect benefits in our infographic.Online deliveryUpselling online is a standard function, unlike in a store where it’s motivated by a sales assistant (who may or may not have the confidence to try). This might come in the form of “complete the look” options and additional suggestions that complement the current basket, like ASOS.Another key example of customers being upsold to online comes in the form of delivery options. For example, if the threshold for free delivery is £30, and the customer’s current basket value stands at £25, they could be persuaded with a pop-up to spend just £5 more in order to receive free delivery. As long as retailers remain transparent about their delivery costs, it’s the consumer choice to buy more in order to benefit from incentives such as free delivery, or even discounts such as 10% off. Conclusion? Customers of today have a strong discount mentality, and therefore retailers must build their profit margin in. Upselling is one of the most popular techniques for retailers to achieve larger baskets and more full-price sales.…
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retail technology news
  • 13 Feb

3 ways to increase your store conversion rate

In the news this week are latest footfall reports on January 2016, as the headlines proclaim the High Street struggles once again. Footfall fell 1.3% in January year-on-year, which marks the deepest decline since June 2016 and the post-Brexit vote slip when footfall plummeted 2.8%. Shopping centres were worst hit: footfall slid 3% year-on-year, making it the 12th consecutive month of decline at shopping centres. On the High Street, figures were down by 0.8%. Cue “death of the High Street” and “online cannibalisation”. But when the UK High Street is still the main channel for 45% of shoppers, it still has a firm place. The trick is making your stores more relevant to the consumer of today.It’s all about stockConsumers admit to visiting retailers’ stores for browsing purposes, to see how a garment will physically look and wear. So, how to make those browsers convert into purchasers? Making your stock readily available where it’s needed most must be the focus for retailers this year. With business rates increasing, and online competition, it boils down to the simple fact that retailers must generate more full price sales per square metre. The store is an asset that must be maximised for the best return. Having items in-stock that are most likely to be bought, in the correct sizes, must be a number one priority. This requires an omnichannel supply chain solution with the flexibility and dependability to utilise a central stock pool to efficiently fulfil and replenish demand across all channels. Stock management and movement must also be achieved more profitably – rather than shipping items to store from the warehouse, our retail IT solution Merret will ship from store if it’s more cost effective.  It’s a fact that customers want items faster, with priority delivery options being favoured by over half of shoppers. If the item can be seen, tried, and bought all in the store visit, this greatly improves the store customer experience.  Or, if it’s out of stock, make in-store ordering an easier and more joined up process, so that the customer isn’t left feeling like they could do it themselves. Which brings us on to the next point…Educate, communicate7 in 10 consumers say that when they go shopping, they know more than the store assistant. This is changing the culture of the store from one of expert advice and valuable experience, to a plain nuisance. We’ve all been there – the store assistant goes to “check in the back” for your preferred size and never returns, or can’t direct you to the correct location, leaving you to fumble around the store for a good 5 minutes, before giving up and leaving empty handed. Retailers must invigorate store teams to sell well, and give the consumer an experience to remember. Technology such as our Merret Tablet Inventory can give store staff the tools they need to please the demanding customer. It’s demonstrated here at Karen Millen, as the customer asks to check stock in other…
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  • 6 Feb

What is the difference between Augmented and Virtual Reality?

Guest blog by Sufyan Quraishy Last week, Retail Assist had the opportunity to attend an Enabling Innovation programme at Nottingham Trent University. The workshop was delivered by Nottingham based company Hot Knife Digital Media which has expertise in designing and delivering 2D/3D animation and video, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and App development. The event was meant as a taster to introduce these standard and emerging technologies with minimum investment; how they might be used to develop innovative processes in 3D visualisation, information sharing, and marketing. What is Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality? Augmented Reality (AR) simply put is enhancing one’s current perception of reality in real time. This can be as simple as overlaying an arrow on a football pitch to show how many yards a free kick is from goal or as used more recently by retailers thanks to the advancements in technology that has brought AR on to smart phones and thus allows both the retailers – to create and bring to life a 3D render of their product and consumers – to see a 360 degree image of the product, with the capabilities to zoom in and out of each angle. Depending on the quality of augmentation, this can go as far as indicating the approximate size of the item, allowing the consumer to ‘wear’ the item, as viewed through their phone. See how Microsoft’s HoloLens seamlessly blends high- definition holograms with the real world.One great example shown at the workshop was how the singer Ariana Grande has used the App ‘Blippar’ with 65 million users worldwide to market and bring her latest fragrance to life. Blippar offers a very easy entrance to AR with low costs and uses the camera on your smartphone or tablet to recognise an image to then bring to life, showing ‘dynamic digital content’. This can be information, news, social media content and even games for example, right on top of your image. Don’t believe me? Try “blipping” this image using the App – ‘Blippar’ (make sure your phone is landscape). Not only has AR been introduced into the retail sector, it has also been making progress in the Hospitality market. Check out our Head of Marketing at Retail Assist, Alex Broxson showcasing how Marriott Hotels uses AR technology to enhance customer experience in a new location. There are other free apps such as “Aurasma” – downloaded by 8million users and was recently used by Argos in their catalogues, mainly aimed at children, to get them playing with products and interactive games before they buy the product. However Argos has recently pulled the wire on this in their catalogues, showcasing the difficulties still faced in introducing this new tech into the market. Also as pointed out at the workshop, “AR is nothing without the content, you need something good to be able to augment over”. So if Augmented Reality is enhancing what we are currently seeing, what is Virtual Reality?Virtual Reality (VR) usually refers to computer technologies that totally immerse…
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International Help Desk
  • 30 Jan

Help Desk: Top 5 Stats

Last week, we released our latest infographic based on the annual results from our Help Desk. We’re proud to perform 10 x better than industry standard IT Support. Here are our top 5 takeaways from the report. SLAsA key statistic identified from our annual results was the outstanding performance in relation to our service level agreements. Agreed with every customer, it is our aim to end every call to our Help Desk with a positive result, the problem solved, and a happy customer. For example, achieving an average first line fix rate of 81% in 2016 exceeds our customer expectation.Understanding the customerWe have created an environment within our service delivery teams which truly understands customers’ requirements. We employ analysts who have worked in the front line of retail/hospitality, and therefore understand the environments in which our customers operate, and encourage them to improve upon the specialist support provided to our customers, through intensive on-site training at some of the UK’s leading retail and hospitality brands. Actively spending time on the front-line at customer sites, the team have worked above and beyond their daily roles to deliver a more engaging service experience, by gaining a deeper understanding of how the business works. Retail Assist is external part of the customers’ own teams, developing closer business relationships that allow the analysts to deliver a service that fits the customers’ exact needs.Benefits of outsourcingOutsourced Retail IT services such as our 24 x 7 Help Desk offer a flexible alternative to in-house teams, and a more cost effective solution. A good Help Desk should match its support service to its customers’ trading hours. To make this possible, many businesses supplement in-house teams with outsourced resources, which offer more hours of supports and a breadth of skills that comes from using a shared service. This means that we deal with issues as and when they arise, helping drive internal processes and provide efficient restoration of service. Playing a ‘behind the scenes’ role, our Help Desk save time whilst increasing profit by delivering greater systems uptime at the point-of-service. We have the support capacity to do this with a scalable service. Multiple language supportHello, Bonjour, Guten Tag, Hola, Ciao, Hallo, Szia, Olá, cześć . . . Did you know, our international Help Desk services are offered in 9 European languages, roughly double the amount of core languages offered by industry standards. Our customers with international stores appreciate the value added by our call analysts resolving IT issues in native technical language – better relationships are developed, and a superior level of customer service is experienced by the end user. We’re proud to understand not only the customer’s technical environment, but also the cultural diversity of supporting stores in different countries. In line with our incident reduction mentality, being able to solve incidents quickly delivers greater uptime at the point of service for the customer, which saves both time and money. We have systems in place that direct customers’ calls…
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IT services and solutions
  • 23 Jan

NRF17: Key Technology Takeouts

We’re back from an insightful and exciting week at NRF17 in New York, where, amongst many retailers, technology and IT services and solutions suppliers, we investigated the latest trends to shape retail in 2017. It was great to see some familiar faces in New York, as well as making new connections. You might have already seen our NRF17 video updates from the Show, reported by Retail Assist’s Head of Marketing, Alex Broxson. Watch them below, as we provide a 5 minute overview of the top technologies seen each day:If there’s one thing which stood out as a theme at this year’s NRF Show and Expo, it was the power of data. A phrase that stuck with us is that “data is the new oil” in retailing. Whether it’s to process unstructured data, as demonstrated with IBM Watson technology making sense of emotions, or customer data used to make experiences more meaningful, there’s a whole host of options for retailers to look into.Power of continued learningThe cognitive processes showcased at NRF17 are the gift that keeps on giving for retailers. “Continued learning” is a benefit offered by most AI tools, including IBM Watson in the video update from Day 1 above. Through the continuous processing of a customer’s data, information is generated to make the retail experience as contextually and emotionally relevant as possible. Innovations using NFC and RFID, showcased in video 2, are taking personalisation to the next level using real-time and location based information to push realistic and useful information to customers. For example, a skier wearing a Spyder jacket can tap the logo, to find out latest ski slope conditions and recommended goggle lenses for the current mountain environment.Endless AisleAs all retailers know, footfall can be challenging, which means they must do all they can to ensure a successful conversion in-store, especially when the stakes are actually getting higher. To have the items in stock that customers really want, or to know where product is accurately in real time, the power of a fully integrated omnichannel supply chain solution and 100% visible data will allow for this. Virtual stocking – or endless aisle – will become increasingly important for retailers, reflecting the need to optimise inventory levels. Experience as a customer is likely to become more relevant, and more fulfilling, as “out of stock” frustration becomes a thing of the past. Innovations such as Microsoft’s HoloLens, demonstrated in video 1, or VR technology, can allow the customer to experience the product even if it isn’t physically held in the store. Making this tech transactional will allow the item purchase to be completed. Automated labour in the form of stock-sensing robots was another innovation showcased at NRF17 that ties into this trend. Offering retailers a continuous flow of in-store stock information, these “shop-floor robots” could become increasingly popular if automation takes off in a big way. Until then, solutions such as Merret Tablet Inventory offer a smart human alternative. If retailers know more from…
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retail technology news
  • 18 Jan

NRF17 Vlog Day 2

Hello from New York! Alex Broxson, Head of Marketing at Retail Assist, brings you highlights from the Show in the second of our NRF17 videos, exploring how technology will serve the needs of rapidly changing consumers, changing the ways in which customers and retailers interact. Watch it on YouTube here. (You can catch up with our Day 1 round-up here).From Day 2, the Top 3 Technology concepts that we identified as the big players are:Augmented Reality in hospitality Cognitive Computing – further updates RFIDGreat to see technology developments for the hospitality sector showcased at NRF17 this year, given that this represents a growing proportion of Retail Assist’s customer base. We were particularly impressed with Augmented Reality technology showcased in the Innovation Lab with Marriott Hotels. In a new location, AR overlays a map of the area with data and information on local restaurants, bars, and the option to book tables as well as taxi journeys. A clever use of technology to provide a convenient service – quickly and virtually “walking around” the area for the time conscious consumer. Next – it’s that dress. . . The fashion savvy amongst you might have seen this before, at the Met Gala 2016 worn by Karolina Kurkova. The same interactive and cognitive principle was showcased at NRF17: IBM Watson is learning from and making sense of unstructured data in the form of tweets with the hashtag #WatsonCommerce, evaluating the emotion within the tweet, and changing the dress colour in real-time response. Quite a spectacle at NRF17 and on the red carpet, but we wonder how it will catch on and feed into mainstream retailing? We met up with Catalyst, the RFID and NFC technology arm of Li & Fung global. We worked with Catalyst last year to showcase latest technologies at Nexpo, our retail technology pop-up. In the video example, RFID and NFC is embedded within clothing (such as sportswear), to deliver real-time contextual information to its wearer, or potential purchaser. Thanks for following our NRF17 updates. We’ll be summing up our experience and predictions for the biggest things in retail this year, so stay tuned for our NRF17 feature blog post. If you’re interested in any of the technologies featured, or want to discuss further, comment below and we’ll get back to you!…
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retail technology news
  • 17 Jan

NRF17 Vlog Day 1

Hello from New York! Alex Broxson, Head of Marketing at Retail Assist, brings you highlights from the Show in the first of our NRF17 videos, exploring how innovative technology is enhancing the ways in which customers and retailers interact. Watch it on YouTube here.From Day 1, the Top 3 Technology concepts that we identified as the big players are:Cognitive Computing Wearables Virtual/Augmented RealityWe explore the latest from IBM Watson and On Star Go, which maximises the time retailers can connect with consumers during otherwise “unused” or “wasted” time – for example, when in the car. Instead of being stuck in traffic, it becomes time well spent. How can the brand integrate into your routine and add value? In the example given, the consumer is sent personalised promotions based on their journey route, location, end destination, and even weather. The technology can also integrate with order management systems, so that the car can “tell” a retailer when the consumer is on the way to pick up an item. Using On Star Go, Watson “learns” about you, your journeys and routines, and therefore can connect with you in more relevant and sophisticated ways. In the wearables space, contactless payment technology has become more and more popular. However, new technology from Visa shows a ceramic payment ring that charges using only your blood flow. The ability to integrate methods of payment into smaller wearable devices is definitely more convenient, but would you really wear it? Being critical, for this type of wearable technology to be adopted, would it be more popular as “worn, but not seen”? If this could be integrated into a ring or piece of jewellery you actually own, it becomes much more relevant. Lastly, we were introduced to VR/AR at last year’s NRF Show, but this year it makes a return with AR and Microsoft’s HoloLens. Making these types of technology more retail focussed has been demonstrated well by integrating HoloLens with “endless aisle” in a store environment. This allows the consumer to experience the product without it needing to be physically there – we can “see” it, but will “touch” ever be integrated to join up the full sensory experience of buying a product? Make sure to check our Twitter @RetailAssist for retail technology news and live updates from NRF17, and we will be posting our second retail technology blog tomorrow! Stay tuned for NRF 17 vlog number 2. If you’re in New York and want to meet up, please drop us a line here. If you’re interested in any of the technologies featured, or want to discuss further, comment below and we’ll get back to you!…
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