+100%-

IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

Mint Velvet appoints Retail Assist as its outsourced IT partner

Mint Velvet IT Outsourcing
  • 20 Nov

Mint Velvet appoints Retail Assist as its outsourced IT partner

Mint Velvet , the new womenswear retailer, has engaged Retail Assist to provide a Managed Solution to include its Merret merchandising and warehousing solution, Triquestra’s Infinity PoS, plus complete IT support service. Mint Velvet is headed up by former Principles brand director Liz Houghton and is backed by non-executive directors Peter Davies (Chairman), Chris Inman and Richard Sims who were founding directors of Rubicon Retail, the former owner of the Principles and Warehouse brands, which they sold in 2005. The Managed Solution developed for Mint Velvet delivers the foundations and capabilities to support a growing business from the outset, and combines all the required hardware, software and services in a single package and integrated with store EPos and website. For Mint Velvet, Retail Assist provides: Hosted and managed Data Centre Implementation and support of Triquestra’s Infinity PoS on Toshiba Tec hardware plus Retail Assist’s Merret supply chain as an end-to-end solution Integration with BT Fresca to support Mint Velvet’s e-commerce site First and second level Help Desk services to store staff, covering a range of retail applications, plus support for a BT communications solution Set up and maintenance of the systems infrastructure for head office and stores Core domain infrastructure including email, Microsoft Office applications, file and print servers Stuart Grant, Commercial Director explains; “Retail Assist was our natural first choice for IT outsourcing. Having worked with the team before, we were confident they had the knowledge and experience to deliver a complete managed service to a very tight deadline. We launched the Mint Velvet website and 14 concessions during October and have just opened our first stand alone stores in Windsor and Chichester. The implementation was planned and delivered from scratch within 3 months – a remarkable achievement. We expect to get clear business benefits from having this Managed Solution as part of the Mint Velvet business.” Mint Velvet’s launch plans left no margin for error or delay in project timescales. The new business planned to be multi-channel from day one, with an online store playing a key part. Alan Morris, Managing Director of Retail Assist concludes: “We are delighted to be working with Mint Velvet’s management team. Their talent and vision is just what the market needs right now, and we’ll be pulling out all the stops to make Mint Velvet a resounding success over the coming months and years. We’re confident our end-to-end Managed Solution will give Mint Velvet a complete and cost-effective resource for their retail-essential technology.”…
Read more
Adams IT Outsourcing
  • 10 Nov

Adams renews contract for a further 5 years

Retail-only solutions and services provider, Retail Assist, has announced that its long-standing client, Adams Kids, has renewed its IT outsourcing relationship in a £multi-million, 5-year contract. Early last year, retail entrepreneur and former Stead & Simpson Chairman, John Shannon, purchased 270 of Adams Kids’ UK stores and 100 international outlets. Comments David Carter-Johnson, Chief Executive of Adams Kids: “Retail Assist has a long history of working with our company as a trusted partner and we consider them to be an integral part of our business. We see Retail Assist playing a valuable part in our growth plans for the future.” Retail Assist has worked with adams kids since 1999 in all areas of system support and development. Its Managed IT services contract includes 24/365 application level support in merchandising, warehousing and finance, plus Help Desk, EPoS, PC and network support, desktop support, offsite data centre hosting and overnight schedule support. It also provides the business with store development, disaster recovery, project management and PCIDSS compliance services. Alan Morris, Retail Assist’s Managing Director, says: “We’re delighted to have reached this new agreement with Adams Kids. It’s very positive news for Retail Assist. It reinforces our relationship with a key client and gives us a platform on which to move forward.”…
Read more
Alan Morris
  • 10 Nov

The critical measures of retail

By Alan Morris, Managing Director of Retail Assist According to research published recently by Steria and Verdict Consulting, the barometer of success or failure for almost every retail business can be evidenced by five critical measures: footfall, spend per customer, market share, margin; and operations. Now more than ever, retailers need to ensure that their activities and strategies link directly to one or more of these measures. Failure to link to them and to monitor them on an ongoing basis can lead to declining sales, weak profits and eroded market share. But why are these five measures so important? More significantly, what can retailers do to improve them, and do software solutions such as supply chain ERP have a role to play? Footfall: The retailer’s lifeblood Without customers, there is no business. But with more shopping destinations than ever before, winning footfall is getting harder. In 1999, 24% of clothing consumers visited just one store; today that figure is down to 15%. Fewer shoppers are hitting the high street and they are shunning the stores they once visited in favour of those that better meet their present needs. But, on the flip side, this promiscuity offers retailers the opportunity to attract new customers. Given the different routes to market: the high street, internet, catalogue and concessions, the battle to win customers means that retailers now need complete visibility of spend and activity, presented as consolidated intelligence, across each and every channel that customers use, regardless of location, retail format and time of day. As recently reported in The Times, UK fashion sales are currently worth £45 billion annually. Of this massive figure, 5% – 6% is currently derived from online sales, a share which is expected to grow to 10% – 15% within the next three years. There can be no doubt that e-commerce has come of age. The unquestioned multi-channel dimension of retail has created a new imperative for supply chain solutions. They can no longer position themselves as primarily supporting high street trading, with additional channels as ‘add-ons’. In terms of optimising footfall, supply chain solutions contribute significantly by streamlining warehouse and stock management. They automate numerous manual processes, resulting in improved stock availability in store. In particular, customer-facing processes such as effective ordering and communication that includes SMS messaging increase satisfaction and loyalty. Spend: Where browsers become buyers Fundamental to success is the ability to convert browsers into buyers and to encourage them to spend as much as possible in one transaction, thereby maximising the average transaction value. The key to improvement is to understand what customers want and to put compelling offers in front of them. Minor tweaks to the retail proposition can have a major impact. Companies that have automated their supply chain enjoy access to tools including business intelligence and performance management that generate accurate and consistent information across the business. Real-time stock views and integrated WSSI give insights that can support precise, timely and profitable decision-making. Where system-led stock management is in place,…
Read more
Harvey Nichols
  • 10 Sep

Harvey Nichols renews out-of-hours support contract

As its initial 3-year contract for an out-of-hours Service Desk comes to a close, international luxury lifestyle retailer, Harvey Nichols, has renewed its service for a further three years. We are providing cover during the early mornings and the early to late evening period on 6 days a week, with a full day of support provided on Sunday. Calls are directed to our Call Analysts who are trained to immediately act upon major IT issues. A 2nd-line support service is also provided to address more complex EPoS problems. The support service covers both Head Office staff and those working in the retailer’s six stores in the UK and one in Dublin, two stand-alone restaurants and the warehouse. Support is also provided for many hundreds of EPoS tills and PCs across these locations.…
Read more
  • 6 Sep

Jane Norman outsources out of hours Service Desk

Retail Assist provides Jane Norman with out of hours store support & operations monitoring Successful young fashion brand, Jane Norman, has engaged retail-only solutions and services provider, Retail Assist, to provide an out-of-hours Service Desk to support its 101 UK stores. The contract also includes a weekend remote operations monitoring service for its head office servers. The growth of the company meant that the small internal IT team wanted to find a way to provide a round-the-clock service to the shops without growing the team further. Philip Boggis, Jane Norman’s IT Director explains the background to the contract: “We wanted to reallocate our IT Support team to strategic projects rather than cover the out-of-hours support. So we looked for a partner to provide a quality out-of-hours Service Desk whilst our internal resources continue to cover normal trading hours.” Boggis continues: “At the same time, we’ve opted to have Retail Assist remotely monitor our key event schedules over the weekends including store polling, batch job processing on our Mercatus Merchandise Management System, and other key overnight batch processes.” Retail Assist secured the contract because it demonstrated a high first-level fix rate and achievement of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) across its customer base, and because it offers specialist knowledge of Store 6.0 EPoS. Retail Assist’s 24 x 7 dedicated Data Centre will deliver the remote monitoring service that Jane Norman required for its overnight schedules and batch processes throughout the weekend. Dan Smith, Managed Services Director at Retail Assist, is responsible for the client relationship. He says: “We will work with Jane Norman’s internal IT team and provide a fast and reliable service. Our Service Desk will have remote dial-in capabilities to take control of individual tills so it can fix more problems at first call.” “For both Service Desk and remote monitoring, Jane Norman is going to benefit from tapping into our Shared Services model. They’ll find they can deliver the same level of service to their store estate during unsociable hours, plus they’ll benefit from our flagging up any overnight processing issues,” he adds. From now on, any disruption at point-of-sale caused by issues with store systems will be minimised as staff enjoy the same level of support, regardless of the time of day. This contract builds on Retail Assist’s experience in providing out-of-hours Service Desk services for companies such as Harvey Nichols. Its remote monitoring services are used by retailers such as Selfridges in the UK and A|Wear in Dublin.…
Read more
Nottingham Head Office - Retail Assist
  • 5 Aug

Retail Assist is moving

Due to continued expansion and the ongoing development of our solutions and services, we are merging our Nottingham Head Office and Bingham Support Centre and are moving to a brand new headquarters in Nottingham city centre. Our new address and contact details are: Retail Assist Ltd The Hub 40 Friar Lane Nottingham NG1 6DQ T : 0115 8533910 F : 0115 8533929 E : info@retail-assist.co.uk Our Administration, HR, Finance, Sales, Marketing and Professional Services teams will work from these new offices from Monday 24th August 2009 . Our Service Desk and Store Systems teams will operate from here fromSaturday 29th August 2009 . The Application Centre and Data Centre will remain in Northampton.…
Read more
Nigel Illingworth
  • 20 Jun

Getting the best from BI and CPM technology

It’s not uncommon for retailers to invest in Business Intelligence (BI) and Corporate Performance Management (CPM) software, only to be bitterly disappointed. These tools are purchased in the belief that they can be used by end-users, independently, to gain timely and efficient access to data. The reality is that they are often no more than raw components that bring with them an IT overhead of programming, integration and support. Here, Nigel Illingworth, Retail Assist’s Product Director for the Merret supply chain solution and Dominic Policella, Managing Director of BOARD, challenge the current BI paradigm, advocate the “retail-ready” approach, and suggest ways of getting the best from BI and CPM technology. Look for integration Many BI systems are sold as toolsets, comprising disparate modules such as budgeting, reporting and dashboard, on the promise that the created model will be just right for the business requirements. In reality, these modules – often the result of company and product acquisitions – can come with huge integration issues, long project timescales, high costs and little flexibility to support change. So, retailers should look to have everything in one integrated environment. Ease of use is critical “Most BI platforms are difficult to use, technical and inflexible,” says Nigel Illingworth. “As a result, they are often kept in the hands of a small number of power users and technicians rather than the wider business community who should be their consumers and beneficiaries.” A BI tool needs to be intuitive to use, and to provide fast and accurate answers to organisations that are starved of information. This is where programming-free environments come into their own, offering rapid familiarity to end-users and enabling them to operate independently. If the solution is modular, it may take some time to model data and craft reports. The best approach is to buy a system that comes with existing reports “out of the box”, tailored to the retail industry. Even if not precisely what you require, this will facilitate much faster report creation and deliver faster business benefit. Retail-ready intelligence Nigel Illingworth observes: “BI tools are very valuable to a fast-moving industry sector such as retail, where it’s necessary to look constantly at how the business is performing, monitor the effects of sales campaigns, benchmark market penetration and measure store and product profitability. A generic tool is simply not up to the job, so retailers should look for BI systems that come with the appropriate retail ‘wrapper’ that both delivers standard, retail-ready reports and offers easy customisation.” Focus on KPIs and exceptions It’s important to differentiate data that you need for information purposes only from data that can be used to make a difference and instigate change. Use of BI should be driven by key performance indicators (KPIs), with emphasis put on highlighting exceptions. KPI thresholds should be easy to define and display, with graphical representations such as gauges, traffic lights, colour coding and maps. At the same time as revealing the big picture, BI tools need to drill down to pockets…
Read more
Aurora Fashions IT Outsourcing
  • 20 Jun

Aurora sees Benefits of Retail Assist Service Desk

In a recent staff survey, Aurora employees noted a marked improvement in the level of customer service received since their IT Service Desk was outsourced to Retail Assist last year. Aurora Fashions is the parent company of six design-led fashion brands: Anoushka G, Coast, Karen Millen, Oasis, Odille and Warehouse. The 2009 review showed a substantial improvement in every category, ranging from how easy it is to contact the Help Desk to how efficiently staff IT problems and requests are solved, and how effectively staff are kept up to date on any issues raised. John Bovill, Group IT Director, explains that as an existing client of Retail Assist, Aurora was sure that it could outsource its first line IT support with confidence: “We’ve had a long relationship and Retail Assist understands retail and our business. It’s a great marriage. We’re getting the cost-savings and benefits of shared services.” Retail Assist provides support for all of the EPoS systems that Aurora uses: Store6, Retail-J and Microsoft Wepos. The service provides both standard trading and out-of-hours cover : Monday to Saturday, 07.00 – 23.15 and Sunday & Bank Holidays, 09.30 – 18.00. In addition, all first-level support calls from Aurora’s Buying, Finance, Head Office and Admin functions are channelled through the Service Desk. For these users, technical support is given on desktop and core business applications.…
Read more
Retail Assist 150
  • 15 Jun

Retail Assist Celebrates 10 years in Business

2009 is a special year for us, as we celebrate our 10th year of trading. In the words of Alan Morris: “The past ten years have been an extraordinary journey. We’ve reached new horizons as we’ve grown our portfolio of services and products, diversified into a number of retail sectors and, more recently, entered new markets such as the USA. The next ten should be even more exciting!” Expansion has touched every area of our business. Staff numbers have grown from the three founding partners, Alan Morris, Gary Broughton and Nigel Illingworth, to now over 100. And in terms of physical locations, we’ve gone from one to several, including our corporate headquarters, Support Centre, Application Centre, and Data Centre. We no longer operate solely in the UK: our products and services are now helping retailers in Eire, and as far afield as the Far East and North America. Along the way, we’ve forged many partnerships and we acquired Merret, all of which has helped us to diversify and grow. “We’ve built a client list that’s the envy of many,” continues Alan. “We value the loyalty and confidence that our clients continue to show in us. It’s because of them and the great people we employ that 2009 calls for celebration.”…
Read more
Nigel Illingworth
  • 16 Apr

How can IT help fashion retail meet its challenges

Whilst retail in general is bearing the brunt of the downturn, fashion is feeling more pain than most. How can IT help fashion retail? Here, Retail Assist’s Product Director, Nigel Illingworth, describes ways in which fashion retailers are using technology to turn themselves into smarter businesses Whilst the world of fashion retailing is not alone in needing to adapt to a tough trading climate, it suffers more than most from external conditions. These include the demands of multiple season stockholding, complex supply chains, competition from cheaper markets, and fickle customers with less disposable income for discretionary purchases. We’ve seen these elements influence the way in which fashion retailers behave towards their IT suppliers and use IT. In the past, inhouse teams would be expected to evolve a 5-year or even 10-year IT plan, which brought together commercial vision and IT investment. Today, it’s short-term tactics and results that count, as retailers focus on 6-24 month developments that can make tangible improvements. When it comes to supplier relationships: Under-performing systems are no longer tolerated and retailers look to squeeze greater efficiencies from an existing core system Gone are the days when a systems change meant a long process, starting with an ITT. Today, pressured retailers want rapid results: a better system or a better deal from their suppliers Suppliers are expected to come up with flexible working and licensing models Large-scale capital outlays have disappeared, as leasing, rental and SaaS options become the norm Timescales have been squeezed. Lengthy implementations with long workshop programmes don’t get signed off Packaged solutions have ousted bespoke developments. The former approach puts the main elements in place, with minor customisation cost-efficient and often be done by users In terms of how IT is used today, the focus is on “quick win”, justifiable changes that are easy to see, save money, and enhance processes, customer service and stock management. Increasingly, retailers use software solutions as the agent for improvement. The customer experience: Whilst many brands boast about store ordering, their processes are often cumbersome. The best amongst them use their supply chain software to create a swift and slick process, whereby items can be sent for home delivery or store pickup Linkage and loyalty come from connecting with customers in new ways, such as via mobile phones, SMS texting and e-magazines. All can build brand loyalty and demonstrate customer care IT solutions are helping fashion retailers to learn a lesson from their supermarket peers and improve flexible pricing and promotion. Stock availability: Inter-branch transfers done manually are labour-intensive and prone to inaccuracy. Today’s IT systems look for overstocked or wrongly-stocked stores and suggest moves. This rebalancing of in-store stock means sales opportunities aren’t lost It’s especially important in fashion to phase stock deliveries. Having stock arriving ad hoc has cost and space implications and negatively affects cash flow. Better inwards tracking and control makes a real difference. Whilst this is often done manually on paper or spreadsheets, savvy businesses use their supply chain solution to give…
Read more
site maintained by we are coda