+100%-

IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

INDUSTRY INSIGHTS

  • 23 Jun

X-Runner – We Did It!

As part of our 15th Birthday Celebrations we wanted to do a fun and challenging team event. That’s why on Saturday, 20th June several of us decided to take part in X-Runner – Water Wipeout in Nottingham.  This was a 5k or 10k course across Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham, involving swimming, obstacles, and lots of mud! We thought you might like to see how we got on. A big well done to everyone who took part. It was a brilliant and fun achievement for all involved. We hope to share the video with you soon… Keep your eye on our YouTube page for the video which will be coming soon! If you are interested in being part of our team at Retail Assist take a look at our career opportunities on our website.…
Read more
  • 16 Jun

Retail Assist’s 15th Birthday Party

Retail Assist’s 15th Birthday is today, 16th June. To celebrate we have been taking part in numerous fun activities, including recording our very own song with members of our Help Desk team. We mixed up the Beatles classic, ‘Help’, re-wrote the lyrics and recorded the results at Rofl Studios in Nottingham.  If you would like something to make you laugh, you can view our efforts here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UGtT0Yc3x0. We hope you are not asking for ‘Help’ after listening to it! We have also been writing a series of blog posts, entitled ’15 years of RA’ where we have been interviewing all of our team members who have been with Retail Assist since the very beginning. They are definitely worth a read and are sure to make you laugh out loud, you can read them all here: http://www.retail-assist.co.uk/15-years-of-retail-assist. Planning our 15th Birthday party has also been keeping us busy, and we’ve been having several parties for our different office locations (with more still to come).  The Nottingham office party was held at the Pitcher and Piano in Nottingham. The night went really well with lots of lovely food, drinks and great conversation, reminiscing about the last 15 years. So much has changed in retail throughout the last 15 years and this change is definitely reflected in Retail Assist as a company. There has been a great increase in the number of employees going from a handful of people to now over 200 employees. Based at just one site 15 years ago, Retail Assist is now spread across 6 sites across Northampton, Oxford and London. So far 13 employees have been with Retail Assist since the very beginning and by the end of 2014 20 Retail Assist employees will have been with us for 10 years. Today one of our team members based at the Northampton office was our official cake baker, following an earlier ‘bake off’ in the year to bake our official Birthday cake.  We are really impressed with her baking efforts and wanted to share this with you: We have also had a crafting session in place with our customer, Hobbycraft, to make a Birthday card and party hats, so this is one Birthday we won’t forget.  Have a look at our crafting efforts below: Saturday 21st June, will also see many members of the team taking part in X-Runner in Nottingham. So we’ll share the results / mud with you here. Stay posted with all the latest Birthday activities by following us on Instagram and Twitter, just search ‘RetailAssist’ #15YearsofRA. Here’s to the next 15 years!…
Read more
  • 2 Jun

15 Years of Retail Assist – Interview with Peter Jefferson Blog

Peter Jefferson is a Senior Analyst Programmer and also the source of our next 15 years of Retail Assist blog. The main purpose of Peter’s role is providing application support, covering; design, development, testing, documentation and implementation of new functions within our supply-chain solution, Merret. This role also means that Peter has to deal with existing Merret modules, providing further functionality. Merret is our omnichannel retailing supply chain solution that covers all aspects of stock control and retail supply, and is used by brands such as Jacques Vert, Whistles, Morrisons Nutmeg, Harvey Nichols and Mint Velvet. Used globally Merret can deal with the complexities of national and international retailing, whilst still managing stock from a central stock pool. Read more about Merret here: http://www.merret.com/home What does your role involve, and how has this changed over the last 15 years? My role is Application Support for Merret, the role means you definitely have to be a team player, developing solutions within very tight timescales. When I first joined I worked at GCS, a company which later evolved to develop the beginnings of Merret. I worked on bespoke developments for GCS customers. Retail Assist acquired Merret in 2007, so I moved to Retail Assist then. What would you say the most significant change has been in retail over the last 15 years? Definitely the internet, giving consumers the ability to shop online as well as in-store I would say has created the most change. What changes have you seen at Retail Assist over the last 15 years? Retail Assist has grown significantly, starting with a very small workforce and growing to over 200 employees has been the biggest change I have seen whilst working here. What is your favourite aspect of working at Retail Assist? I enjoy the work. It is always very challenging, sometimes too challenging, but there is no better feeling than overcoming these obstacles and providing our customers with the best solutions and services that we can. Most memorable/funniest Retail Assist experience? Our office on the Wellingborough Road was a great place to work; we definitely had some fun times there, obviously alongside lots of hard work! If you have enjoyed reading this blog and are interested in reading about other members of our team then keep an eye on our blog page: http://www.retail-assist.co.uk and also our twitter account: @RetailAssist #15YearsofRA for updates and latest blog posts. For more information about Retail Assist then please contact us on info@retail-assist.co.uk or 0115 853 3910.…
Read more
  • 29 May

Our 15th Birthday Sing Song

As you may be aware from some of our recent #15YearsofRA blogs we are rapidly approaching our 15th Birthday. We have a number of events coming up in order to celebrate the occasion but we also wanted to organise something a bit different, a memorable experience that could reflect what we do. After some thought we decided to become singer/songwriters and record our own song. We have adapted the classic Beatles hit ‘Help’ to reflect the services we offer through our Help Desk. (Picture from left to right: Emily Boaler, Jack Morris, Alex Broxson, Jaye Taylor and Danielle Wathey.) After rallying troops from the Help Desk, writing the lyrics and having a practice, we made our way to Rofl Studies in Nottingham to record our song. The Help Desk provides international language support, and Emily is one of our multi-lingual call analysts, who added her international flair to the song: “I speak English, French, Italian and Spanish, so I know how important and beneficial our customers find our international language support is. I thought that by adding in some (very limited) use of languages at the beginning of the song and using some of my Spanish fans and a French beret (modelled by Alex) as props in the video it would be a fun way to demonstrate our international support.” (Picture from left to right: Emily Boaler, Jack Morris, Alex Broxson, Jaye Taylor and Danielle Wathey.) From start to finish everyone was fully committed to the project and thoroughly enjoyed it. We certainly had ‘face ache’ from laughing so much, and singing! Danielle commented, “I loved taking part in recording the song; I enjoyed it so much I even took my lyrics home to practice. It was a memorable experience that I think really helps to portray our Help Desk services.” When I spoke to Jack about his involvement in the song he said, “As the only boy in the group I was definitely the lead when it came to all the lower notes, not that there was much competition from the girls. I really enjoyed the experience and we definitely had many laughs along the way.” After some slight re-tuning I think it would be fair to say we were all pretty pleased with the results, although it is important to mention that no cats were harmed in the making of this recording! Overall it was a really great experience and we have definitely created something memorable for our 15th Birthday. Alex added, “We all found it to be a really fun experience and had a great laugh together, that’s what it was all about, getting together, having fun, and doing something a bit different.” I think it’s also important to mention another key member in our team, Rae Hayward, Head of Human Resources. Without her there would be no video, so we would like to say a missive thank you. After talking to Rae about creating our Help Desk video she said, “I really enjoyed putting the video…
Read more
  • 26 May

15 Years of Retail Assist – Interview with David Ford

Here we go with another 15th Birthday blog.  This one is courtesy of David Ford our Store Systems Supervisor. What does your role involve, and how has this changed over the last 15 years? My role involves supervision of the Store System team and together we provide 2nd line support for Retail Assist’s PoS clients. Over the last 15 years it has changed gradually rather than dramatically because we now have such a wide variety of clients and each provide different challenges. At first I worked just for Sports Division and then just for Adams Childrenswear and during this time I was based at the clients site rather than our own Head Office. What would you say the most significant change has been in retail over the last 15 years? How people shop and the development of online shopping – Increasing the use of iPad’s and other tablets in-store. What changes have you seen at Retail Assist over the last 15 years? We started out working from a small office near Bingham Station, namely ‘Cabourn House’, and then moved to bigger premises still based at Bingham which became known as ‘Compass Point’. We later made the BIG move to ‘The Hub’ Nottingham in August 2009! What is your favourite aspect of working at Retail Assist? I guess most people will say this but “the people”. The fact that Retail Assist has grown dramatically in size but the close knit team feeling still remains, whilst maintaining the standards of a large company. Most memorable/funniest Retail Assist experience? One in particular stands out for me; Meeting one of my hero’s on the way back from Dundrum in Ireland following a new store opening – I found myself stood next to John Surtees at the airport and got his autograph. (The only man to win both the Formula 1 World Championship and also the Motorcycle World Championship.) If you have enjoyed reading this blog and are interested in reading about other members of our team then keep an eye on our blog page: http://www.retail-assist.co.uk and also our twitter account: @RetailAssist #15YearsofRA for updates and latest blog posts. For more information about Retail Assist then please contact us on info@retail-assist.co.uk or 0115 853 3910.…
Read more
  • 12 May

15 Years of Retail Assist – Interview with Borys Krywyj

Here we go with another ‘15 Years of Retail Assist’ blog post, and this time it is from Borys Krywyj. Borys is Head of Sales at Retail Assist and is definitely the loudest member of the Sales and Marketing team. It’s hard to properly introduce Borys, I think the best way to describe him is, ‘the life and soul of the party’, but I’m hoping you will get a better idea from reading this latest blog, I promise it’s laugh out loud funny! What does your role involve, and how has this changed over the last 15 years? When I started in 1999, Retail Assist had just signed its first client in Adams Childrenswear.  Alan and I looked after all things sales and marketing related.  ‘Big Rog’ (http://www.retail-assist.co.uk/retailassistintheusa/15-years-of-retail-assist-%E2%80%93-interview-with-roger-bannister.html) was running the Help Desk in those days.  Although my colleagues in marketing may be shocked to hear this, I came into RA with both a sales and marketing industry background.  The starting point in 1999 was to build the Retail Assist “brand awareness” across our industry.  This involved everything from corporate brochure production, creating exhibition stands for Trade Shows, mail shots (these were the days before electronic mass mail you know!), creating our first set of Presentation slides and then hitting the “Evangelist Road” with Alan, talking to retail prospects throughout our industry. Fast forward to 2014 and Retail Assist now has a Sales & Marketing team of 8, covering Sales, Marketing and Commercial Management (contracts to me and you). My role today is still very similar to the role I had in 1999 – working closely with Marketing to drive the messages and lead generation, manage the sales team and most importantly, continue to make sales. What would you say the most significant change has been in retail over the last 15 years? For those of you who know me, you will know that I am quite a traditionalist (not to be confused with the word “old”). I don’t think that much has really changed in retail or in retail technology over the 15 years. On the technology side, there is a lot of ‘scaremongering’ and ‘jumping’ on the bandwagon for a quick buck, which goes on. Year 2000 and Cloud Computing come to mind, a lot of hype about very little. Thankfully, Retail Assist is not like that and I believe that our principles and solutions remain as relevant today as they did to our clients 15 years ago. In terms of “retailing”, again what has really changed? We still go to shops just like we did back in 1909 when Selfridges first opened its doors. The way products are visually merchandised hasn’t really changed much.  Yes there are more lights, glitz and glamour but, essentially, the experience is still the same. Yes, there is now the online channel and data gathering is key in getting better targeted messages to us as individuals.  However, what about some of the other trends? Some of our clients are now at the…
Read more
  • 28 Apr

15 Years of Retail Assist – Interview with Roger Bannister

Our next ‘15Years of Retail Assist’ blog comes from Roger Bannister, one of our Sales Manager’s. In the last 15 years Roger’s role has covered many aspects of the business, giving him a great knowledge and understanding of every part of the company. This is clearly seen in the passion and commitment he demonstrates in his current role today. So let’s see what he has to say… What does your role involve, and how has this changed over the last 15 years? My role as Sales Manager entails the selling of our range of services and solutions, from Helpdesk through to Merret. This is predominantly new business, by which I mean brand new customers to Retail Assist.  I also pick up the commercial lead on a number of existing customers, which involves identifying wider opportunities, as well as managing things like contract renewals/extensions. For this I tend to work closely with the Client Services side that pick up responsibility for managing the accounts on a day to day basis. My very first role with the business actually came pre-Retail Assist when I joined Compass, the company from which Retail Assist was formed, in 1996 as a Business Analyst, although the scope of this role was very varied and on top of what you would classify as ‘business analysis’ I did other things like the installation, training and go-live support of the in-store solutions for new Sports Division and Outfit stores. When Retail Assist was formed I became the Helpdesk Manager and was tasked with building that team and establishing the necessary processes and procedures required to facilitate world class support to our customers. I also managed the two Desktop Support engineers that were based on-site at the Adams HO in Nuneaton. Over time my responsibility widened and the Technical Services/Store Systems teams also reported into me. In circa 2005, I took an opportunity to move into a more commercially focussed role and became a Client Account Manager, looking after existing customers such as Harvey Nichols and Selfridges. In late 2006, I made a very hard decision to pursue an opportunity outside of RA! Having spent a couple of years away, the lure to return in late 2008 was too strong, and I returned (a little bit older and wiser, and definitely more commercially savvy!) in the role of Sales Manager. I’ve been back six years this year, which will mean my association with the business stems back 18 years!” What would you say the most significant change has been in retail over the last 15 years? Without a doubt the evolution of the various channels to market that retailers now utilise, as well as the ways in which customers can shop ‘the brand’ AKA omnichannel. This has all been possible due to the technological advances we have seen down the years, from the Internet through to a far more robust and quicker communications infrastructure. Mobile smartphones and tablets are now ‘the norm’, and gone are the days of dial-up comms…
Read more
  • 21 Apr

15 Years of Retail Assist – Interview with Nigel Hodgkins Blog

With our 15th Birthday drawing ever closer we are continuing to speak to team members who have been with us from the very beginning. Last week we interviewed Leigh Mann, a Support Analyst Team Leader, working at our Northampton Applications Centre. This week we have been talking to Nigel Hodgkins who is a Store Development Project Manager, based at our Nottingham Head Office.  Nigel has worked at Retail Assist since the very beginning, even before Retail Assist was established. Nigel always has a lot of funny and interesting stories to tell in the office, so this latest blog post will make an interesting read. What does your role involve, and how has this changed over the last 15 years? My first role was to help build and install the till systems for Sports Division. The company wanted someone with retail background who could spend 4 days on site training the staff on the POS and providing opening support. This included sites in Northern Ireland and Dublin. When the Sports Division contract finished, my role then was to provide onsite training and support for the Outfit New Store opening programme. This would involve 2 weeks onsite training of up to 100 staff and then providing onsite support for the opening. This went on for a period of 6 months, after which I then transferred to the Help Desk. After that the Adams contract was won and the Helpdesk expanded to 6 people working in pairs to cover the weekends. I was teamed up with “Marion” who was a strange character to say the least! She soon left. When I started as a contractor in 1997, I worked on the Sports Division rollout in Cabourne House, Bingham, an office where we built all the Outfit tills in a tiny attic space on wallpaper pasting tables -very professional, and where the walls used to rattle when the freight trains came through! By September 1999 Retail Assist had moved offices from Cabourne House to a bigger site in Bingham. I later moved from the Helpdesk to work on Store Development, to manage the Adams new store opening programme. When Rubicon came along I managed the Telewest rollout of all Rubicon sites and then all their new store development. This has continued with new clients coming on board, and any new Store Development usually comes to me, including rollouts of new PCs, EFT rollouts etc… What would you say the most significant change has been in retail over the last 15 years? I would say POS software – notably mobile POS solutions has been the most obvious change, with the advance of the Internet, ship from store and online sales high up there.  There is also the increased development of the Polling relationships with Host Department stores, enabling clients to set up quickly with no POS Hardware installation requirement.  Our solution RAX has had a massive influence on this. What changes have you seen at Retail Assist over the last 15 years? The obvious changes…
Read more
  • 14 Apr

15 Years of Retail Assist – Interview with Leigh Mann

Following on from our previous blog with our Executive Chairman, Alan Morris, we are continuing  to focus on those members who have been with Retail Assist for 15 years, as we build up to the celebration of our 15th Birthday. Leigh Mann is a Support Analyst Team Leader, who works at our Northampton Applications Centre. After 15 years at Retail Assist, Leigh provides an interesting observation in to his day to day role and how this has changed and evolved over the years. What does your role involve, and how has this changed over the last 15 years? I am the support team leader for 3rd line Merret issues. This involves identifying problems and finding answers to client issues whether it is a data issue, bug or client requirement. My role has changed considerably; I used to be client based but am now part of the shared resource in the Application Centre, based in Northampton. What would you say the most significant change has been in retail over the last 15 years? Easy, eCommerce without a doubt. 15 years ago I was of the opinion “Who would want to buy clothes over the internet?” Well, everybody apparently. For most of our customers the on-line store is by far the most important part of their business and obviously some of our customers only have an on-line presence. I’ve even resorted to buying clothes on-line myself. Who’d have thought! What changes have you seen at Retail Assist over the last 15 years? The size of the business has increased dramatically. Starting with just a handful of staff to well over 200 and climbing. Thank goodness for the intranet, at least I can get an idea of what the person looks like when I’m talking to them – a shadowy version of Alan sometimes! What is your favourite aspect of working at Retail Assist? The challenges and the making a difference. Although not during the night I’d like to point out to the Ops team! It’s good finding a solution to the impossible problem. To find the answer to something that can’t possibly be happening is a great buzz. Most memorable/funniest Retail Assist experience? Helping to setup the Sainsburys Tu brand and the Boots Minimode brand, particularly the warehousing aspects are my happiest achievements. My most memorable experience was when we started the automatic warehouse at Adams Childrenswear, and on a few occasions I got to the launch the picking cranes. It was an awesome sight and I felt like a big kid with new toys. Although they never let me have a ride on the sortation machine. If you have enjoyed reading this blog and are interested in reading about other members of our team then keep an eye on our blog page: http://www.retail-assist.co.uk and also our twitter account: @RetailAssist #15YearsofRA for updates and latest blogs. For more information about Retail Assist then please contact us on info@retail-assist.co.uk or 0115 853 3910.…
Read more
  • 31 Mar

15 Years of Retail Assist – Interview with Alan Morris

This year we are celebrating our 15th Birthday. As such we have been speaking to some of the Retail Assist team members who have been with us from the very beginning. In our first post we will be asking our Executive Chairman, Alan Morris, about some of his favourite Retail Assist memories and about the changes he has seen over the 15 years. Alan Morris is Retail Assist’s Executive Chairman and one of its founders.  He is a very skilled businessman, business systems practitioner and visionary. Alan began his career in the mid 1980’s and has managed major projects throughout the entire supply chain. In the mid-1990’s Alan observed a gap between the retailer and the IT solution provider, to bridge this, he set up retail IT services company, which later evolved into what is now Retail Assist. Alan, what does your role involve, and how has this changed over the last 15 years? That is a good question. I guess the proper answer is “to ensure that the objectives of the shareholders are achieved”.  In the early days I was far more hands on than I am today in terms of actual projects and services delivery. Although it is a long standing joke that I have never answered a Help Desk call I feel that I must have done at some point in the past; I have done almost everything else! What would you say the most significant change has been in retail over the last 15 years? The ability to sell product across multiple channels, in multiple countries over multiple time zones. Technology 15 years ago played a supporting role (in that it made existing process run better). Now technology provides opportunity for competitive advantage at the sharp end of retail; the web and mobile are two examples. What changes have you seen at Retail Assist over the last 15 years? It is said that change is the only constant in life and this is certainly the case at RA. We are obviously bigger than 1999 in terms of more people, more clients, we are stronger in terms of more experience and we have a both software and managed solutions offerings. I like to think that our core values over the years have not changed and I am sure that they won’t. It is these that underpin the way we do everything. What is your favourite aspect of working at Retail Assist? The people – it sounds glib and trite but it is true for me. Most memorable/funniest Retail Assist experience? Most memorable was the weekend we moved into Compass Point in Bingham, Nottinghamshire. The team work that went into that exercise was fantastic and the pride that everyone involved showed for a “job well done” was great to see and experience. The funniest is equally difficult because like the memories there has been a lot of fun too, but if I was to be drawn on one thing then I’d say it was the night that Dan…
Read more
site maintained by we are coda