IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

Blog Archive

  • 21 Dec 2015
A Christmas Wish and Charitable Gifts
As the year draws to a close, and we reflect on another great year at Retail Assist, our thoughts turn to those who are more vulnerable at Christmastime. For two years now, our chosen charity has been Emmanuel House, a homelessness charity based in Nottingham City Centre. The charity provides invaluable services and support to those who are homeless or vulnerably housed in Nottingham. Founded in 1976, Emmanuel House welcomes between 60-90 visitors each weekday and 30-50 on weekends. This equates to almost 2000 visits a month, with approximately 200 new visitors each year, all of whom have complex and multiple needs. Having recently launched their ‘Cup of Kindness’ winter appeal, Emmanuel House is hoping to raise £40,000 to be able to provide visitors to Emmanuel House with food, drink, shelter and support. Last year, we donated half towards the total cost of Christmas Day at Emmanuel House. On Friday, we held a Christmas fundraising day across all our UK sites – Nottingham, Northampton, London, Stanton Harcourt – including a Christmas raffle, desk decorating competition, fuddle and Christmas Jumper Day, and have raised £1000. It’s great that this beats our fundraising total last Christmas, as we raised £750. Our Chairman, Alan Morris, said that: “Whilst we enjoy the Christmas festivities at this time of year, it’s more important than ever to remember the spirit of giving, and including those in our thoughts that are most vulnerable. With no statutory funding, Emmanuel House relies on donations, allowing the charity to continue to provide their amazing services and support to the homeless and vulnerably housed in Nottingham. Contributions will help to make a real difference on someone’s Christmas Day, in the form of a hot meal, a safe and friendly environment, and people to share the festivities with. That’s what the Cup of Kindness appeal is all about.” Here’s some photographs from across our sites, of the fundraising activities we have been up to!      …
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  • 14 Dec 2015
NRF 2016: See you there!
As the year draws to a close and we look to the New Year, we start to plan our annual visit to the National Retail Federation’s Show and Expo in New York. It’s just a month to go until the NRF Expo, Retail’s BIG Show 2016, taking place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in NYC from Sunday 17th January – Wednesday 20th January 2016. The Show brings great opportunities to see the latest innovations in retail technology, and network with faces old and new. If you’re attending, and would like to meet up whilst in New York, please get in touch with us. We’re looking forward to arranging meet-ups with other retailers and suppliers, so just click here to schedule time to meet with the Retail Assist team. This year, we’ll be sharing our NRF experiences to bring you daily content: the best technologies and solutions from the Expo hall, interesting insights from presentations and discussions, and our opinions on the top retail trends to look out for in 2016. Make sure to look out for our live video updates, which will be published on our blog, and social media feeds. And remember to search the Twitter hashtag #nrf16 to follow the latest trends and innovations from the Show. See you there!…
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  • 10 Dec 2015
Do you want to trade internationally with confidence?
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  • 10 Dec 2015
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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discount december
  • 7 Dec 2015
A discounted December?
The verdict’s out on Black Friday, as this year’s sales figures are in. But did the event meet our predictions and expectations? It looks like our Black Friday research (featured here on Notts TV at 1:37) was correct. Online vs High St Online spend was up 36% year on year, smashing previous records by topping £1.1 billion sales on Black Friday. Online sales across the four day weekend, including Cyber Monday, amounted to a whopping £3.3 billion. It was a different story on the high street, however, as footfall fell 4.5%, a slump blamed not only on the “damp squib” that was Black Friday, but also due to the strong online offer provided by many retailers. In this sense, Black Friday definitely failed to provide high street fashion stores with the required boost in November, with sales down 4.9% year on year, following on from a similar October slump. So, why did consumers choose to purchase online, opting for shopping via ecommerce rather than bricks and mortar? Perhaps the mayhem that gripped the nation’s headlines last year acted as a deterrent to those hoping to shop in-store. Something that definitely stood out from last year is the drawn out nature of the discount period. It was a well organised, pre-Christmas shopping event rather than one manic day of unprecedented demand and unfulfilled expectations. Discount mentality Is there much that retailers can do in the battle to protect margins, in the face of the current consumer demand for discounting? 60% of shoppers time their purchases around sales (Conlumino 2014), a mentality that is harming retailers’ sell through of full price stock. If December is anything to go by so far, we’re still seeing extended discounts under different names: Cyber Monday Hangover, Manic Monday, Festive Frenzy… It’s interesting that the connotations of discounting still concentrate on the “flash” sale, despite deals being stretched out to prevent demand concentrating on days like Black Friday. Something retailers need to consider is the amount of returns they’re getting, and the need to process these with great efficiency. What’s the use of having an item “out of stock” on your website, or in-store for that matter, when said item is being returned, and could be being sold at full price? This is a cyclical process that needs to tighten up. Now more than ever, it’s critical for retailers to have 100% visibility of all stock, across all channels. We can help – just visit our dedicated Merret page to learn more about omnichannel supply chain efficiency, or get in touch with us here.    …
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  • 2 Dec 2015
Christmas Gift Guide for Him 2015
What to buy the man in your life for Christmas 2015… Our Marketing team has been out on the High St compiling the perfect Christmas Gift Guide for Him, featuring our customers. You can also watch our Christmas Gift Guide for Her here. 1) White Stuff Pyjamas, £25 T-shirt, £35 Bottoms 2) White Stuff Washbag, £15 3) Reiss Coat, £295 4) Reiss Cashmink Scarf, £45 5) Paperchase Recipe Book, £15 6) Paperchase Tablet Case, £12 7) Cath Kidston Baby All-in-One, £32…
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christmas gift guide for him
  • 1 Dec 2015
Christmas Gift Guide For Her 2015
Now that December’s here, it’s a great time to make your Christmas gift purchases! Wondering what to buy your Mum for Christmas 2015? Or maybe the best Christmas gifts for your girlfriend? Our latest vlog features Top 5 Christmas Gifts for Her (& more!), complied on the High Street and featuring our customers. Make sure to look out for our Christmas Gift Guide for Him tomorrow! 1) Oasis Tabby Tasseled Bag, £34 2) Oasis Grey Bow Slipper, £14 3) White Stuff Annabelle Bobble Hat, £17 4) White Stuff Cut Work Floral Apron, £16 5) Cath Kidston Champagne Glasses, £15 6) Cath Kidston Baby Knitted All In One, £32 7) Paperchase Apples & Pears Medium Scrapbook, £10 8) Paperchase A6 Week To View Diary, £6 Don’t forget to check last posting dates for Christmas to ensure your gift arrives on time for the big day.…
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  • 27 Nov 2015
Black Friday vs Cyber Monday 2015
What are the best Black Friday deals 2015? All prices correct as of 3pm GMT on 27/11/2015 It’s the question on everyone’s minds today as Black Friday officially kicks off. After searching the web, like 70% of fellow online Black Friday shoppers, we’ve rounded up our top 5 Black Friday deals below: 1) Nutribullet Debenhams are offering the popular Nutribullet juicer & blender at £69.00, thats a 30% discount off the usual price of £99.00. Blenders have made a popular appearance back in the home, and would make a perfect Christmas gift for that New Year health kick.   2) Apple iPad Air 16GB For the Apple lover, this iPad air is a tablet steal. Reduced from £319 to £259, the impressive £60 reduction is also available with Clubcard Boost points.   3) Sony Play Station 4 500GB Argos has delivered Black Friday discounts for a couple of weeks already, and this PS4 deal is no exception. At £199.99, TechRadar have called it a “superdeal”. Great for the gamer in your family.   4) Canon EOS 1200D Digital SLR Camera For the snap happy consumer, you have to snap up this great deal from Amazon: the Canon EOS 1200D is now £219, a 45% reduction from its previous price of £399.99.     5) Shoppable windows Not technically a “deal” as such, but we had to mention House of Fraser’s augmented reality innovation. They’ve introduced “shoppable windows” this Black Friday, connecting the in-store and online experiences as a great example of omnichannel retailing. Consumers that are window shopping can scan the window vinyls, which will automatically direct their device to their Black Friday deals featuring on HoF’s website. This might appeal to shoppers who don’t want to face the queues today, but enjoy the experience of shopping physically. You can read the full story in Retail Week.   Have you bought anything this Black Friday? Want to share your experience? Just post it in the comment box below.  …
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  • 24 Nov 2015
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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Black Friday
  • 23 Nov 2015
Black Friday 2015: the countdown is on
The countdown is on: Black Friday is just 4 days away. New figures released this morning by Visa Europe predict that Brits will spend £1.9 billion on Black Friday 2015: that’s £83m every hour, £1.4m every minute and £23,000 every second. It’s already been a turbulent start at either end of the spectrum: shock news of Asda’s veto 2 weeks ago was followed by retailer uncertainty regarding participation. Then, last Friday, Argos’ deals launch was tarnished by an embarrassing website crash (again). Oops… Now more than ever, it’s essential for retailers to prepare fully for the festive season, to ensure that even at the busiest times, trading is uninterrupted by issues, and the customer experience remains seamless. Black Friday and the birth in discount mentality has meant that retailers no longer experience a steady stream of Christmas trading. 60% of shoppers time their purchases around sales (Conlumino 2014), a mentality that is harming retailers’ sell through of full price stock. This October, sales fell year on year, as consumers “hold off” for November. After Black Friday, there’s now a lull – 62% of shoppers we surveyed use Black Friday to buy Christmas gifts, leaving a smaller stream of Christmas shoppers in early November and December. The store still plays a critical role in the festive shopping experience, and as well as a robust ecomm platform to cope with unprecedented demand, the same measures need to be taken in store. Take queueing, for example: did you know that 40% of consumers won’t queue for longer than 2 minutes, and 51% refuse to even enter a store if they see a queue? At Christmas, increased demand means a busy store is inevitable, but making customer service more efficient should be a number one priority. Till down-time and queueing are real but avoidable issues, if you have the correct service provision in place. Our Help Desk experts are experienced in front line retail service, and understand the true impact of issues such as systems downtime at peak periods. Our 24×7 IT and technical support facilitates greater systems uptime at point of service, critical for any brand, any time of year. Great customer service is not just for Christmas. You can download our How To Guide: Preparing for Peak Trading, tomorrow. To opt in to receive it by email, just hit the subscribe button at the top of this page.…
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