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IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

News

  • 10 Dec

Do you want to trade internationally with confidence?

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  • 10 Dec

Getting closer to the source?

Alan Morris, Chairman of Retail Assist Imagine a time when retailers only buy what they know they will sell; no more overstocking; no experimental lines failing to deliver results; just products that customers are eagerly waiting to buy. Is this only possible in the far off world of “Retail Utopia”? Do you remember when customers created their own desire to acquire things? They went to their preferred store, selected what they wanted, made their purchase and returned home. It’s different today. I buy things that I didn’t even know I wanted (let alone needed). Once the seed germinates, I explore the world looking at my options: what to buy, where to buy it from, how much to pay, how to have it delivered. Why? Because retailers are constantly seeding my mind with ideas of the things I could buy. Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and increasingly Periscope, are all free-to-air media channels that I subscribe to, not for retail therapy but for day-to-day brand communications. Using social as an influencer in retail has become an arena for creative innovation. Through various channels, fashion brands have gradually opened their exclusive doors to the consumer. A great example is Burberry, who recently initiated a “fashion first” by premiering its Spring/Summer ‘16 range through a behind-the-scenes photo shoot live on Snapchat. This follows from its Periscope premiere of the “London in Los Angeles” fashion show, which gave its followers unlimited access to all areas of the prestigious Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, from back stage to the enviable front row. As a result of widening its social media participation, Burberry also experienced the largest audience growth on Instagram of any brand at London Fashion Week earlier this year, with nearly 74,000 new followers thanks to the event. This was an eye-opening experience for customers and a bold move for the retailer, but could the idea of collaboration on social media be taken further upstream towards the source? If a retailer wants to provide its customer with an experience that is tailored to their requirements in terms of choice, service and price then surely it makes sense to involve them in the process that actually brings the products into the store, website or catalogue. Should the retailer start involving the customer before the customer journey has, in the traditional sense, begun? If a retailer were to explore the opportunity to collaborate with the consumer pre-production, using social media could be instrumental to the process. It’s an active, convenient, real-time channel to facilitate live feedback. Nearly 75% of shoppers prefer using online media to discover new fashion trends. Imagine opening up a forthcoming season’s “look-book” to your customers and sharing the inspirations behind the designers’ and buyers’ thinking. With 73% of consumers saying that they actively engage with brands by commenting on posts, liking links and posting questions, consider the scale of indicative feedback you could receive, through something as simple as an A/B test on Instagram, or a Twitter poll. This type of invaluable feedback, carried…
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  • 24 Nov

How to Prepare Your Stores for Peak Trading

With Black Friday and Christmas just around the corner, the busiest and most lucrative trading period in the retail calendar, have you ensured everything is in place to minimise downtime in stores? Designed with our customers, including Oasis, Warehouse, Karen Millen, Coast, Cath Kidston and World Duty Free, our Preparation for Peak Trading guide has reduced incidents across store estates, kept tills ringing, and helped customer service to be at its best. Download our free guide to help your store prepare and run smoothly over the busiest trading period of the year. Our guide covers: Point of Sale hardware Back up / offline trading equipment Inducting new staff members Contacting your IT Helpdesk DOWNLOAD OUR FREE PEAK TRADING CHECKLIST HERE.…
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  • 29 Sep

Baking and Donating for Macmillan Coffee Morning

On Friday 25th September, we held a cake and coffee morning across all of our sites for Macmillan Coffee Morning: Macmillan’s biggest fundraising event for people facing cancer. The day was a great success, with a grand total of £679.43 being raised across our Nottingham, Northampton and London offices. We wanted to thank everyone that baked, ate, and donated, and for the effort put into each and every cake. Across the company, in every hardworking team, it’s great to see that everyone took the time to join in, in aid of such a great cause. Cake certainly tastes better together, and we’re proud to have contributed to making sure no-one faces cancer alone. Check out our Retail Assist cakes and bakes: Nottingham Head Office: Nottingham Help Desk: London Paul Street: Northampton App Centre:…
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Retail IT Support
  • 3 Sep

Using pedal power for National Cycle to Work Day

The Retail Assist team were on their bikes for National Cycle to Work Day today, to support the nationwide cycling campaign, as well as a local initiative to do good deeds in the community. Cycle to Work Day aims to encourage commuters to take to two wheels and cycle to work on September 3rd 2015. The event hopes to achieve the aim of seeing 1 million people regularly cycle to work by 2021. Retail Assist’s Head Office is in Nottingham, where a city-wide campaign, ‘Good Deeds Notts’, is currently taking place to promote charitable good will in the community. The overall aim of the Good Deeds campaign is to get 1,000 people to pledge to do something positive for the community within the next 12 months, like getting on their bikes to work as a sustainable, environmentally friendly method of transport. The team of seasoned cyclists, David Ford, Neil Saxon and Andy Thomas, used their pedal power to travel an average of 10 miles to complete their morning commute to the office, braving the busy roads into Nottingham City Centre from Long Eaton and Trent Lock. As a reward for those taking two wheels to work, (and an incentive to get in the saddle!), Retail Assist welcomed its cyclists with a tasty breakfast: croissants, fresh fruit, and some baked goods whipped up by colleagues! The cycling bug is definitely infectious at Retail Assist: one member of the Nottingham Help Desk support team, Jack Morris, recently completed a gruelling 78 mile training ride from Notts County’s Meadow Lane to Milton Keynes, raising over £3,000 in the process for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Charity. Retail Assist has encouraged anyone from across its office bases in Nottingham, Northampton, Oxford and London to get in the saddle, to support the Cycle to Work initiative, and Good Deeds Notts.…
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Help Desk 1 million calls
  • 31 Jul

Celebrating our Help Desk’s 1 millionth call ticket!

It’s a milestone moment for Retail Assist, as last night, our Help Desk received its one millionth call ticket – a very special call which we refer to as the ‘Golden Ticket’! Our Help Desk takes IT support calls 24 x 7 from an impressive customer base of well-known retail brands, hospitality operators, and other business sectors, from across the globe; such as Cath Kidston, Karen Millen, World Duty Free Group and Vue Cinemas. On average, around 600 daily calls are taken by our expert multilingual call analysts, who log and resolve all of their IT and technical incidents. The millionth call came out-of-hours from Vue Cinemas, at their Westfield London site. Vue is an international cinema chain, supported by Retail Assist’s Help Desk since 2009. The Help Desk provides Vue Cinemas with a single point of contact 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for all IT support calls covering facilities management and technology, and 1st line support and incident management. Dave Wilson, Head of Technical Services at Vue Cinemas, was delighted to hear the news that Vue had contributed to the achievement. He commented: “It’s a great landmark for Retail Assist and amazing to think that 1,000,000 conversations have taken place in helping all of their clients. Congratulations and here’s to the next million!” Vue’s Westfield cinema is the UK’s biggest and most technologically advanced, fully digital, 17 screen multiplex cinema, and Help Desk support from Retail Assist ensures its critical systems are fully supported 24 x 7 x 365, for optimum business performance at all times. Anthony Collings, Help Desk Manager, added: “We’d been expecting the millionth call this week, and it created a real buzz in the team as we approached the mark. It struck me that the call could have been at any time of day, and from any place in the world. It could have come from as far as America, from one of the retailers we support in mainland Europe, or even down the road in Nottingham City Centre. The geographical scope that the Help Desk covers, all from our UK base, is quite something.” Congratulations to the teams who work 24 x 7 to ensure our Help Desk customers around the globe can trade any time, with confidence in their IT systems, through expert incident resolution and first class multilingual communication.…
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Merret Analytics Excel
  • 30 Jul

Retail Assist launches Merret Analytics

July 2015: Retail Assist has added to its product line of award winning retailer led IT solutions with the development of Merret Analytics. Merret Analytics is an actionable analytics tool, transferring data into insight, enabling retailers to readily discover meaningful patterns in their data to describe, predict and improve their business performance. It allows users of Retail Assist’s omnichannel supply chain solution, Merret, to leverage strategic information available in Merret through an Excel plugin, with a framework of analytical tools and pre-designed reports. It will enable retailers to make key strategic decisions in a timely fashion by acting on the most current trading trends, delivering greater business profitability. Developed as a simple and easy to use Microsoft Excel plugin, Merret Analytics is powerful to operate, and familiar in look and feel to standard business software, enabling a high level of adoption amongst staff, and faster learning. From the moment a user connects to Merret Analytics, it allows immediate access to the most accurate sales information in a recognisable fashion and relevant formats. Robin Coles, Head of Research and Design at Retail Assist, commented: “We have developed this for retailers looking for a cost effective and accessible solution. A must for merchandisers, it could not be easier to use being based on Excel’s advanced pivot table functions. Merret Analytics brings business benefits by adding significant value to the rich transactional data already held in Merret, by pulling it out into simple, relevant actionable templates and reports.” Alan Morris, Executive Chairman at Retail Assist, added: “If a retailer is to gain competitive advantage in today’s market, integrated business performance analysis of the multi-domain nature of omnichannel retail systems is required. We’ve developed Merret Analytics, in partnership with Inovretail, to provide our Merret users with the most intuitive tool to do this.”   Keep a look out for more Retail Technology News on our News page or check out our weekly posts on our Retail Technology Blog.…
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Retail IT Support Application Academy
  • 24 Jun

Retail Assist launches Application Academy

Retail Assist has launched the Application Academy, a self-administered, online training and user support portal. The App Academy, named in reference to its award-winning retail applications, is an e-learning tool for retailers to manage their own learning and development, maximising the operational benefits of using their applications for greater business profitability. All members of the business, from the shop floor to senior management, can take over 70 learning modules for a complete education across all aspects of Retail Assist’s applications portfolio. After taking a course, either online, on mobile, or tablet, users are then assessed to provide a standard level of compliance. The App Academy therefore ensures greater operational efficiency in the staff base, preventing costly mistakes. 72% of companies who were surveyed[1] recently stated that e-learning helps them to keep up to date with changes in their industry, which helps them to remain competitive. Given that the pace of technology change is faster than ever, retail training must therefore be viewed as an investment in the long-term prosperity of the business, and not just a cost. In addition, the typically high rate of retail staffing turnover means that the App Academy is a great tool for inducting new starters. It’s estimated that 25% of retail employees leave their job simply because there aren’t enough learning or training opportunities, a statistic that Retail Assist’s App Academy helps to challenge. Retail Assist’s Executive Chairman, Alan Morris, comments on the company’s latest business development, and the decision to advance its educational support offering: “Learning is an iterative process, which is especially true for technology. In the form of the App Academy, we’re providing a long term platform to make retail operations more efficient, through a cost effective model that reduces ongoing support costs.” “We wanted to give our customers the best way to become experts in their field. We’re passionate about our retail technology, and want them to develop the most productive understanding of it to harness the operational efficiencies of their staff base, and drive better business processes.” One of Retail Assist’s customers is currently trialling the product; their Head of IT commented, “The App Academy will play a great part in the induction process, as well as a refresher for existing teams. Even our expert testers learned some new Merret features.” The online platform is intuitive and simple; optimised for convenient on-the-go learning to increase retention rates. Users of the App Academy can further their education at a time and pace that suits them, accessed when and where they need it, and only that part of the course that they need – rather like omnichannel learning, for omnichannel retailing. Gary Broughton, Chief Operating Officer of Solutions at Retail Assist, explains the benefits of the new platform; “If you want to build confidence amongst staff and management that your retail systems are operated in the most productive way, the App Academy is the most beneficial way to do so, decreasing training costs by an average of 75% whilst improving performance, and…
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Retail IT Support
  • 27 May

Karen Millen goes for growth with Merret

May 2015: Leading international fashion retailer Karen Millen is the latest brand to go live with Retail Assist’s omnichannel supply chain solution, Merret. An end-to-end, fully integrated retail IT solution, the implementation of Merret provides a seamless shopping experience across all of Karen Millen’s retail channels. Merret will provide Karen Millen with a more comprehensive view of its global inventory due to its central stock pool, allowing them to fulfil an ‘anything, anytime, anywhere’ omnichannel offer regardless of geographic location. Karen Millen has also invested in smart tablet technology with Retail Assist’s in-store inventory technology, Merret Tablet Inventory. Facilitating a transparent and comprehensive stock inventory view and therefore enabling order fulfilment via the most efficient and cost effective channel, the solution maximises the sell-through of full price stock, thanks to smarter inventory management. It optimises Karen Millen’s bricks and mortar stores by complimenting the successful existing ship-from-store functionality, further enabling virtual distribution hubs for the brand. With 15 years of experience in supporting fashion retailers with their IT solutions, Retail Assist was well positioned to facilitate Karen Millen through this significant technological improvement project. Mike Shearwood, Chief Executive of Karen Millen, commented; “I’ve always taken the view that the more international the business with a solid omnichannel trading strategy, the more opportunities afforded. Karen Millen has expanded worldwide at a rapid rate, and we wanted a dependable global solution to enhance our complex multi-currency trade, providing us with an integrated and joined up vision of our stock pool, across solus stores, online, and concessions in the UK and overseas.” Nigel Illingworth, CEO of Merret at Retail Assist, added; “Karen Millen’s omnichannel vision to maximise the efficiency of their global trading was something Retail Assist was confident to bring into being. The partnerships between the teams was excellent, and we’re proud to continue to support their omnichannel operations.” Karen Millen is also benefiting significantly from Retail Assist’s IT Help Desk support service: a single point of contact for all IT and technical support calls for their stores in the UK and internationally. Since delivering Help Desk services in international languages for Karen Millen stores overseas, the brand has experienced a 55% reduction in average problem resolution time in little more than a year.…
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IT Solutions Company
  • 6 May

Keeping Vue Entertainment ‘Picture Perfect’ for 6 years

Retail Assist has supported Vue Entertainment since 2009, helping drive incident volumes down with their specialist IT Help Desk support services.  BACKGROUND In recent years, Vue Entertainment has seen significant growth in the UK and internationally. With the acquisitions of Apollo Cinemas UK, CinemaxX in Germany, Multikino in Poland and, most recently, Space Cinemas, Vue now operates across nine territories including the UK, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, Poland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania and Taiwan. With a rapidly expanding cinema estate and IT infrastructure, and therefore an increased business reliance on IT, Vue identified a critical need for a more streamlined support services network. With all technical issues, Vue needed one service desk to own all calls, and one number for staff to call. As well as greater consistency of business systems support, Vue wanted to optimise its cost-effectiveness. As such, they turned to retail technology specialist Retail Assist, to provide IT support across its 83-strong UK cinema estate, as well as international locations. RETAIL ASSIST’S HELP DESK Retail Assist’s Help Desk provides a single point of contact 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for all business support calls covering facilities management and technology. Customers benefit from a team of highly trained experts who have over 15 years’ worth of experience, ISO 20000 procedures, and multiple language support. PROCESS Retail Assist took on responsibility for the management of user support, and technical service management, in Vue’s Head Office and across the entire cinema estate in 2009. Delivery of IT Help Desk support services was enlisted between 9am and 12am, 364 days a year, covering 1st line support and incident management. The single point of contact for problem resolution was key for clarity across the business and speeding up resolution time. Roland Jones, Vue Entertainment’s Executive Director of Technical Services comments, “Vue Entertainment’s growth over the last few years has in turn increased the scale of our IT infrastructure, and Retail Assist is the ideal partner to support our growth and maintain high standards as we move into new territories internationally. We have always been impressed by the high quality technical service provided by Retail Assist, together with their professionalism, knowledge and commitment to supporting delivery of our brand experience.” With future growth plans for the store estate already in play, the scalability of Retail Assist’s Help Desk service allowed it to adapt to Vue’s growing business needs. PROJECT COMPLETION Retail Assist has helped Vue to drive incident volumes down, work seamlessly with internal IT and business teams and has also worked to educate on best and responsible practices. Because Vue Entertainment was so impressed with the Help Desk service, in 2014 they were contracted for a further 5 years. Dave Wilson, Head of Technical Services at Vue, says “We continue to use Retail Assist because of their flexibility and willingness to always go that extra mile, which has always struck with me. It’s never a no, it’s always a yes, and nothing is ever too much trouble. They consistently deliver and…
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