IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

Blog Archive

  • 31 Dec 2012
Happy New Year!
Another year has passed, and once again everyone is sitting wondering where the time has gone. As a reminder of how  Retail Assist has used its time in 2012, here is a list of our favourite blog posts: January –A Day in the Life of Systems Analyst Gareth Thorley February – Guest Blog: Top 5 Retailer FAQs on Mobile Payment March –My Mum and Shopping in the 1970s vs Retail Today April –10 Top Tips for Multichannel Retailing May –A Day in the Life of Business Analyst Daniel Reeve June –Retail Innovation Technology July –Data Centre “Hot Topics” August –Guest Blog: How Multi touch Technology is Improving the Retail Experience September –The Retail Assist Client Day October –Interview with Cath Kidston November –Retail Assist Achieves ISO 20000 December –Internationalisation Of The Retail Assist Help Desk Happy new year, here’s to 2013!…
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  • 24 Dec 2012
Boxing Day Preparation
Boxing day: one of the busiest days on the retail calendar, one of the busiest days for Retail Assist. Like most retailers across the country, we’ve been preparing for this for a while, and are looking forward to what is set to be a very profitable day for our clients. Helpdesk Manager Anthony Collings said: “We make sure weeks before that we are running at low open incidents as it’s important that the retailers are there to sell and make money. “That way, if there are any problems on Boxing Day, our helpdesk are available to provide support immediately.” Following last years reports of strong sales on Boxing Day 2011 – with Selfridges reportedly taking in £1.3m in its first hour – retailers are hopeful for another busy day, which we are honoured to be a part of. If you are looking to do some shopping yourself we recommend paying a visit to White Stuff – who are offering up to 40% off women’s, men’s and accessories online and in store, starting today – and Mint Velvet, who have 20% off selected items. If shopping isn’t your thing then we recommend a quiet day at the cinema to end festivities on a cheery note – Nativity 2 is worth a watch. Happy holidays!…
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  • 17 Dec 2012
Internationalisation Of The Retail Assist Help Desk
With more brands expanding their business on an international level, it is important to ensure a good range of language capabilities when offering helpdesk services. This is why we at Retail Assist have started to think internationally by expanding our team with native and learned speakers of a range of languages – a service that is available in an addition to our current international capabilities. We took the time to discuss this update to our service with Helpdesk Manager, Anthony Collings, to gain insight into how this will impact upon the future of the help desk, and how it will benefit future and existing clients. Charlotte: First of all, let’s talk a bit about you. How long have you worked on the Retail Assist help desk? And can you tell us a bit about your role? Anthony: I have worked on the helpdesk for over 6 years now, I did Helpdesk Admin for 6 months, and worked as Helpdesk Analyst for 3 years, Team Leader for a year, Supervisor for a year, and am currently Manager. Within my current role I oversee and manage the helpdesk (this is made up of Team Leaders, Analysts, Handlers, Admin and Desktop Support.) We provide 24/7 support 365 days a year and we provide the link between the helpdesk and the other team members of Retail Assist whilst also acting as an escalation point for our clients. We also oversee the work to ensure we deliver within budget and in accordance to SLA’s, whilst suggesting and making changes to ensure we are continually improving upon all aspects of the helpdesk. Charlotte: What had to be done to internationalise the helpdesk, how much work went into it and what steps had to be taken? Anthony: Over the past 12 months we have seen many of our clients expand their operations overseas. With this in mind we wanted to ensure we had the language skills in place long before we were asked to provide these services to our clients, so we would be ready when they wanted them. We looked into the languages required based on the location of stores and by speaking to clients to identify any markets they had future plans of expanding into. Charlotte: Which languages are we currently able to deliver? Anthony: We currently provide language skills in Italian, Polish, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin and German. Charlotte: What are your thoughts on this change, and how has the change impacted the way you and your team work? Anthony: This change is really positive and my thoughts are that it brings a new challenge and a new approach to the services we can offer, it provides another service we can deliver and keeps us one step ahead of our competition. It will also benefit all departments within Retail Assist, as these skills mean we have the ability to talk directly to clients and third parties abroad. We can also translate conference calls and email communication.  This gets our analysts involved in other aspects…
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Harvey Nichols
  • 10 Dec 2012
Happy Anniversary Harvey Nichols!
November 2012 marked 6 years since our ‘out of hours’ help desk service began with the iconic Harvey Nichols. To celebrate our anniversary we decided to take a look at how things have changed in both companies since 2006. Back in 2006 Retail Assist is likely to have been taking calls regarding Point Of Sale (POS) hardware and software issues, network issues and login problems. Now we are dealing with similar issues, but support has moved on – for example we now have remote access to POS, enabling us to provide an instant resolution rather than just to log and assign the incident over to be handled by another team. A recent change for Harvey Nichols is the expansion of the business to include a high end beauty offering. The first ‘Beauty Bazaar’ store was opened at the start of this month by style icon Olivia Palermo (who has her own blog here) in the UK’s beauty spending capital, Liverpool. Whilst the technology supported and products sold in store may have changed, the location from which we provide the support has also moved over the years. While we at Retail Assist haven’t opened any extraordinarily glamorous  department stores, we have relocated our Nottingham head office. In 2006 we were located in the Nottinghamshire market town of Bingham. We have since packed up and moved to a high rise office in the heart of Nottingham city centre. Whilst the Directors may not thank us for this, for the sake of context, here are some members of our management team outside the Bingham office many moons ago: And here they are on the balcony of our new(er) location: Another point we’d like to touch upon is international expansion. When we began supporting Harvey Nichols in 2006 they already had an international presence, and had plans of further global expansion.  They certainly kept up with those plans, and even opened a store in the Indonesian capital city of Jakarta in September 2008. Again, Retail Assist has grown with retailers requirements,  enabling the expansion of our own international service offering through regularly helping leading retail brands with their global expansion plans.  In fact, we gained a lot of interesting information from Nigel Illingworth (our CEO of Merret at Retail Assist) and his experiences of international retail here. With the continuing growth of international requirements we are soon to take that one step further through the offer of multilingual services on our helpdesk, with French, Spanish and Italian speaking members of the team. And lastly we’d like to mention something that hasn’t changed – our commitment to great service, and advancing the support provided from our specialist understanding of retailers requirements. We look forward to many more anniversary’s to come.…
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  • 3 Dec 2012
Christmas Gift Ideas For Boys
1. Nevil Chronograph Watch @ Harvey Nichols £190 2. ASOS Double Buckle Satchel £25 3.  Vue Cinema Voucher 4. Paperchase Robot Alarm Clock £17.50 5. Blow Football @ Paperchase £5 6. Jack Daniels Single Barrel @ Selfridges £59.99 7.  ‘All My Friends Are Dead’ @ White Stuff £6.95 8. Marc Jacobs Polo @ Harvey Nichols £100 8. iPhone 4 case @ Selfridges £25 Last week we shared our gift ideas for girls, and this week it’s time for the boys.  As shopping has become increasingly popular among men over the years, with 44.8% of fashion purchases now made by males according to Retail Week, we thought we’d get some Christmas gift ideas together for the retail loving men in your lives. With over 30 clients brands on our books, we had a lot of choice. While we wanted to include every single thing we liked it didn’t seem realistic (and wouldn’t be a very helpful shoppers guide) so everything you see here has been hand picked with care, with a selection of different brands, style and products in mind to ensure we’ve got all bases covered. If you have any suggestions of your own when it comes to shopping for boys we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or via Twitter, and we hope you found this small collection useful. Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?…
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  • 3 Dec 2012
Retail Assist awarded ISO20000
Following a recent audit Retail Assist have again successfully achieved the BSi ISO mark, attaining the standard for the new release of the ISO20000 accreditation across the company as a whole. ISO20000 is the recognised IT Service Management Standard that enables businesses to consistently deliver services to a high standard, and is the only standard that confirms ITIL conformity. Dan Smith, Managed Services Director at Retail Assist, said: “This is a recognised ‘gold standard’ accreditation, and Retail Assist was the first retail-only IT services provider to achieve it. We are very proud of the entire team, each person of which was needed to make this possible. Although many businesses achieve this level of certification, many only do so for parts of their business – Retail Assist has achieved it across the entire company, which is a real credit to every one of us.” The Retail Assist team was first awarded ISO20000 in 2008, and is set for their second re-certification in 2013. Each accreditation lasts 3 years, with 2 audits a year. Dan Smith concludes: “Everyone that works at Retail Asst works hard to make this gold standard accreditation possible. We see ISO20000 as an endorsement of our ITIL processes, technology, and people, and believe that its framework will help support the continuous improvement and growth of Retail Assist as a whole.”…
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  • 26 Nov 2012
Christmas Gift Ideas For Girls
1. Mulberry iPad case at Selfridges £165 . 2. Cath Kidston Tea Set £30 3. Diptyque Rose Candle at Selfridges £38 . 4. Paperchase 2013 diary £9 5. Nails Inc at ASOS £29.50 . 6. Daisy Eau So Fresh at Harvey Nichols £48 7. Florence earrings at Coast £20 .8. Cath Kidston handbag essentials gift set £49.50 One of our favourite things about working in retail is the excuse to shop. We have some fantastic brands on board at Retail Assist, and so looking through their online stores to see what they’ve been upto can be a real pleasure. Especially as it’s coming up to Christmas. At this time of year gift buying becomes top of our priority list as soon as we leave the office, and as we have such a diverse range of clients – offering a huge range of gifts – we thought it would be nice to give you a helping hand with your shopping this year. These are our top picks for girls, and next week we’ll be publishing some of our favourite gift ideas for boys. Happy shopping!…
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Nigel Illingworth
  • 20 Nov 2012
Communication – the strongest link in today’s retail supply chains
Today’s supply chains are complex networks of interdependent elements, says Retail Assist’s Nigel Illingworth.  Whilst each element must be optimised, nothing contributes more to supply chain excellence than good communication between all parties.  Retailers can put distance between themselves and their peers in an increasingly competitive market by good supply chain management. This can optimise product sourcing, manufacture, storage and distribution, thereby reducing operating costs and contributing to customer satisfaction. Whilst sound supply chain management can deliver efficiencies and cost-effectiveness, it also ranks amongst a retailer’s greatest challenges.  This is due to constant change and the complexity of the elements that need to be managed and integrated.  It is therefore best to regard supply chain excellence as a journey, not a destination. Communication One of the greatest contributions to supply chain excellence comes from improved communication with supply partners.  That means extending internal collaboration to include manufacturers, involving all those upon whom the supply chain depends, and ensuring visibility of all activities. Today’s communications are developing fast and technology can be actively used to support collaboration for new supply chain efficiencies. Suppliers and retailers can push or pull data between them which directly helps the business and the customer experience.  Within stores, uninterrupted broadband connectivity gives a real-time view of stock held in the warehouse or in networked stores.  In short, with the tools now available, there is no excuse for poor communication across the supply chain. Processes, people and products The supply chain is often only seen in terms of physical elements and stock flow, but it’s also about information flow.  Far from the strong, interlinked structure from which it takes its name, a supply chain is more commonly a loose amalgam of processes, people and products whose interaction constantly evolves and demands improvement.  Too often, one part of the chain operates to the detriment of others. Planning Many recent supply chain improvements have been in planning, enhancing systems and the means by which data is passed to the buyers.  There is much to be gained from including supplier management within the planning workflow, taking it from sourcing to storefront, although a fair bit of this activity is still paper-based and far from interactive. Warehouse Management The supply chain is too often thought of as warehousing and undue attention is focussed here.  With technologies such as RFID for scanning and tracking, and robotics for picking, sortation and despatch, warehouse management can be automated, producing operational efficiencies, cost savings and increased throughput. Distribution and logistics Slick warehousing notwithstanding, when it comes to transportation of goods from supplier to warehouse and from warehouse to the point-of-sale or directly to the customer, there is little more to be done to overcome the physical limitations of transport logistics. Stock Control Today’s retailer has to have the right stock in the right place or available on very short cycle times to protect profit margins and to please customers.  Whilst most retailers can do more to reduce inventory levels and improve replenishment timing and accuracy,…
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  • 19 Nov 2012
Retail Assist Achieves ISO 20000
This week’s blog comes to you with good news from Retail Assist – we have successfully passed our BSI ISO audit, in addition to achieving the standard for the new release of ISO20000 across the business as a whole. The ISO20000 is the international IT Service Management standard that enables organisations to ensure that their services are delivered to a high standard. While many are accredited for certain areas within their business, Retail Assist has been certified across the entirety of our organisation, so we are obviously very proud! Achieving ISO20000 status is a great result for us, and we are really pleased to have achieved this status for the last 5 years. Next year will be our second full re-certification, with each accreditation lasting for 3 years, with 2 audits a year. This accomplishment demonstrates our ability to provide a consistent approach as a business, a culture of continuous improvement and an approach which focuses on the detection of problems before they occur throughout all of the services we provide.…
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  • 12 Nov 2012
Retail Assist At The Richard House Ball
At Retail Assist we like to show our support for charity, and last week spent an evening at a glamorous fund raiser for a very worthy cause – the Richard House Children’s Hospice. For the third year we, along with clients Coast and Aurora Fashions, put on our formal wear and attended the Richard House Ball in London in order to help them raise money. Along with many worthwhile fund raising activities, the evening shared with us some inspiring and touching tales of bravery and strength. But what does this charity actually do? Richard House is a charity that ‘provides care and support for life-limited children and children with complex healthcare conditions and their families. The charity accompanies them during the young person’s journey through life or death, creating positive experiences along the way which become good memories for the future.’ While the annual ball is their biggest event, it is not the only way this worthwhile cause raises money for its children. If you want to take part and make a difference yourself there are many events you can get involved in, which can be found on the Richard House website. Did you attend the Richard House Ball this year? You can see more photos from our night on the Retail Assist Facebook page.…
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