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IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

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IT Help Desk
  • 17 Sep

Fix Your IT Issues Fast

Managed Services for Retail and Hospitality Operating in a reliable manner and free from disruption is the cornerstone to any success in the retail world; those that manage it find themselves well placed to deal with the many other challenges the industry brings. With the help of Retail Assist, retailers can free themselves from the worries that sometimes surround technical issues, and focus their attention on other aspects of their business. Help Desk Support Retail Assist is proud of its award winning Help Desk team who give retailers and hospitality operators one single point of contact, should they encounter any IT difficulties within any element of their technical infrastructure. The expertise of the Help Desk staff means that operations can continue with minimum disruption. The IT Helpdesk Support, as well as Operations Support, operates like an extension of any business. The costs and hassle of employing staff directly is removed, and a proactive approach ensures that problems are identified and adapted to in advance and as often as possible. As it is a single point of contact, confusion between suppliers is avoided, and problems are managed right through to the point of resolution. Perhaps the most important aspect of the IT Helpdesk Support, is that it is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and in a variety of languages, meaning problems and issues don’t have to wait for standard office operating hours. Technical Services Alongside the IT Helpdesk Support and Operations Support Retail Assist provides, lies a multitude of Technical Services. Server Management and Installation covers all aspects of dealing with servers, from offering advice and recommendations as to what is most suitable for a retailer, to monitoring them whilst active, as well as preventing or solving any problems. In a similar manner the Network Management and Design services offered by Retail Assist make sure that communication lines are monitored and trouble free. This becomes especially important when viewed in the context of retail supply chains; any disruption in communication could lead to loss of revenue and customer satisfaction very swiftly. Retail Assist also handles all aspects of Wi-Fi Management; what usage is occurring, content being shared, and how data lines are performing. Retail Systems Support Taking advantage of Retails Assist’s expertise in the industry, Retail Systems Support runs alongside the IT Helpdesk and Operations Support to provide deep understanding and help within retail, particularly in the area of deploying technology. Thanks to the many good relationships Retail Assist has cultivated, recommendations can be made for certain products that will suit an organisation best, and costs can often be saved via cost negotiations. Full round the clock support is provided, and working with the Store Development aspects of Retail Assist, complete store openings, refits and closures can be tackled from beginning to end.  What are the benefits of getting technical support from Retail Assist?  As mentioned above, support is available 24 x 7 x 365 meaning that at no point will any problems…
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  • 10 Sep

How Managed IT Services Can Boost Your Productivity

Managed IT Services Retail Assist provides a number of Managed IT Services to leading retailers and hospitality operators across the globe, including the following: Help Desk Services, IT Outsourcing, Retail Systems Support, Project Management, Technical Services, Operations Support and IT Due Diligence. Employing staff once meant a body of workers confined to one location. Recent years have seen increasing amounts of businesses in all sectors adopt new working methods. Remote and flexible options have widened talent pools and provided benefits to employers and employees alike. One new working method being eagerly embraced by many retailers, is that of Managed IT Services; outsourcing IT support to experts that don’t work within your company. The advantages of this are wide-ranging. Use of specialist knowledge and expertise The biggest attraction of Managed IT Services is of course the ability to tap into specialised expertise and knowledge, which is sector specific and may not be available within your own company. Whilst many IT experts may have a broad knowledge that covers many areas, finding those that have very specified skills and awareness of exactly what is needed in terms of the IT used in each individual industry, can sometimes be challenging. Using Managed IT Services ensures that such expertise is easily accessible when required, without the time, effort or cost of recruitment. Cost savings Crucial to all business initiatives, are the costs involved. Managed It Services can help make significant cost savings, primarily by removing the need for the employment of a direct team and the associated costs that hiring staff brings. Office space may also be saved, as the need for physical locations where employees work is removed entirely. Your outsourced team use their own office space and resource, without any direct financial impact on you. Efficiency can also be improved, as work can be delegated to and focussed on by the chosen outsourced team. Naturally, fluctuations in workload often occur in IT, so having a dedicated Managed IT Services team allows your own teams to focus on other important matters. Adopt long term and proactive approaches As IT lies at the centre of many businesses, having a system that operates reliably and without interruption is incredibly important. By using Managed IT Services, a proactive approach can be taken, which can allow problems to be foreseen and reacted to before they occur. Long term strategies can be implemented, with the option for IT services to feature increased activity when needed, such as if a new project is due to launch. Expanded workloads can be reacted to in a way that is productive and doesn’t impact on efficiency. Flexibility is possible Managed IT Services can be fully integrated with existing working practices, meaning that they can fit in and complement how a business chooses to operate. This gives a flexible approach that will grow and develop as the levels of IT support required changes over time. Those looking to move into new areas and utilise new working methods or ideas can do so with…
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Pizza Hut visit Retail Assist
  • 3 Sep

Retail Assist’s Help Desk get a slice of the action!

Retail Assist’s IT Help Desk provides support to Pizza Hut Restaurants 24X7X365 Bill Parker, IT Service Manager for Pizza Hut Restaurants, visited Retail Assist to praise its IT Help Desk for what he called a “tremendous team achievement” Sharing thanks: Liz Donagain (left) and Richard Winstock (middle) were thanked by Bill Parker, Pizza Hut’s IT Service Manager On Wednesday 29th August, Pizza Hut Restaurant’s IT Service Manager, Bill Parker, travelled up to Nottingham to personally thank the Retail Assist Help Desk, bringing with him lots of pizzas to treat everyone. The IT Help Desk provides support to Pizza Hut Restaurants available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and has recently overseen the transition from Ambercat to Jira’s issue tracking software. Bill said: “Retail Assist has exceeded my expectations with the migration; it has been seamless from our side. I wanted to express our thanks to everyone that has been involved in making it happen. I believe we are already seeing the benefits. I feel this does demonstrate how investing in the planning reaps rewards with the transition”. “I’ve experienced many different transitions, but this has been the smoothest and most streamlined to date.” The Help Desk’s work is part of a continued relationship with Pizza Hut Restaurants, who renewed their contract agreement for a further three-years with Retail Assist earlier this year. Bill particularly wanted to thank IT Help Desk colleagues Liz Donagain and Richard Winstock, calling their work “outstanding” and especially praising “their commitment, dedication and prompt follow-up”. Retail Assist has supported Pizza Hut Restaurants since 2013, as a single point of contact for everything IT related in their restaurants. Retail Assist’s first and second-line Help Desk teams proactively manage all elements of IT support for 7,500 Pizza Hut Restaurants employees working across 256 restaurants, with 24 x 7 availability. Dan Smith, Chief Executive Officer at Retail Assist, said: “We are delighted with Bill’s feedback as we’re very proud of our relationship with Pizza Hut Restaurants. Our proactive approach to planning and supporting our clients aims to reduce issues, with our unique hospitality service provision benefiting thousands of members of the Pizza Hut Restaurants’ team across the country.” Retail Assist’s IT Help Desk won ‘Services Company of the Year 2017’ at the UK IT Industry Awards in 2017, and also won the ‘Best Managed Service Desk 2016’ at the Service Desk Institute’s Annual IT Service and Support Awards.…
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Retail Assist's Great British Bake Off
  • 29 Aug

Retail Assist try their hand at the Great British Bake Off

#GBBO The Retail Assist team have turned their hands to baking to raise money for charity… but who received the Hollywood Handshake? Guest judges, (left to right) Lynette, Lucy and Matt. On Tuesday 28th August, Retail Assist colleagues downed tools and picked up their baking bowls to raise money for Emmanuel House, a charity that helps support homeless people in Nottingham. With three guest judges including Matt Douglas and Lucy Hickling from Nottingham’s own 200 Degrees, and Lynette Pinchess, Nottingham Post’s food and drink editor, there was a tough crowd to please. The Retail Assist team had brought in every kind of baked good, from cheese scones to a unicorn cake – and not a soggy bottom in sight. With so much choice, there was something there to tickle everyone’s (fondant) fancy. However, with so many top contenders, judging the winner was not a piece of cake. 200 Degree’s Marketing Manager, Matt, said: “There have been so many tastes and textures, with savoury as well as sweet. We’ve also been really impressed with the presentation.” Lauren Howatson, Marketing Manager for Emmanuel House, added: “Everyone has made such an effort. We were so impressed!” The Showstopper – A unicorn shaped cake with a matcha and lemon sponge The overall winner was Helpdesk Call Analyst, Kay Thompson, with a chocolate extravaganza showstopper. Gifted by 200 Degrees, Kay won the chance to not only replicate her cake in their kitchen, but to see it being sold in 200 Degrees stores. Kay said, “I’m delighted to have won! I put lots of effort in and I’m so pleased that we are raising money and awareness for Emmanuel House. They are such a great charity.” Head Chef at 200 Degrees and fellow judge, Lucy, added: “There was a massive array of colour and when we saw the winning cake, we knew we would love to replicate it. It will fly off the shelves!” The winning bake, made by Kay Thompson The Nottingham office raised a current total of £208.67, with all proceeds going to Emmanuel House. Offering support to the city’s homeless and vulnerable adults, Emmanuel House provides vital help and guidance to those most in need. They have over 1,000 visits a week where they offer essential survival services such as hot food and drinks, an opportunity to change into clean, dry clothing, shower and laundry facilities as well as support in the following areas: mental health, tenancy and resettlement, benefits and welfare, training and workshops and access to the Winter Shelter. Well done to Kay and thank you to everyone who took part! Think you could add to our cake skills? Retail Assist is expanding! Visit our careers page at https://retail-assist.co.uk/careers/ for more information.…
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  • 28 Aug

Strawberries In January

Guest blog by Andrew Busby. Andrew Busby is a former retailer, Founder & CEO of Retail Reflections and an IBM Futurist. “We have no time for the traditional seasonal model of the fashion industry.” You’ve been invited to a black tie dinner – time to get that killer cocktail dress you’ve always been lusting after. Quick look online and it should be delivered by Saturday. Great! Except – the experience is anything but. Right colour, wrong size; right size, wrong colour… Sound familiar? Great expectations I’m sure many of us have trodden that wearisome path many times and wondered how can it be so difficult? The truth is that our expectations are now highly attuned – influenced by friends, colleagues, the media – we are impatient and less tolerant than ever before. Today’s fashion industry is under pressure like never before, faced with consumers who are used to a relentless diet of instant gratification. We don’t just expect, we demand. And it’s assuming epic proportions, especially amongst Generation Z – those born after 1995 – digital natives who have never known a world without the internet, never known a world without a smartphone in their hand. They say the pen is mightier than the sword. Well, the smartphone is the new weapon of choice for many of us; always on, always connected, always broadcasting. For Gen Z especially: search results not what was expected? Move on. No response within 2 seconds? Move on – voicing their frustration via social media as they go. It’s ruthless and it’s cutthroat. But it doesn’t end there. Strawberries In January Just as we have come to expect strawberries in January, equally we have no time for the traditional seasonal model of the fashion industry. It’s not known as fast fashion for nothing. Our insatiable thirst for newness and choice is hard to quench; the need to introduce new product at an increasingly swifter pace is overwhelming many. Whilst the prize is great – witness the likes of Asos – who are on target for £4bn turnover by 2020 – for many the daunting size of the task can appear too great. Consumer demand is driving a new retail model as brands, both online and physical, are realising the absolute need to have a consistent and unique view of the product across the entire business. Emotions Drive Behaviour However, it’s a complex dynamic which is being played out, one which involves probably the most complex thing of all: our minds. In her excellent blog post, Business & Consumer Psychologist, Zana Apostolova, describes the role of emotions in driving our behaviour. “The factors influencing purchasing behaviours are 80% emotions and 20% logic. This points to the fact that first we emotionally find reasons to buy, then we try to find reasons to validate that purchase” Zana Apostolova, Psychologist So it follows that whilst online still continues to grow – according to The Centre For Retail Research it is forecast to grow by 13.8% in 2018 –…
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Ship from Store
  • 20 Aug

Ship from Store: Streamlined Scenarios

Supporting the Omnichannel Experience Having a successful omnichannel supply chain in place is proving vital to businesses looking to embrace customer expectations, as well as for adapting to an ever-changing retail landscape. Joining up channels which work together efficiently, means retailers have been able to see advantages not only to shoppers, but to themselves too. One part of the supply chain is Ship from Store. What is Ship from Store? As the name suggests, Ship from Store brings products to customers directly from stores, rather than relying on the distribution centre. Orders are first placed online, and fed through to a sales order management system which checks and confirms availability. The items are then picked in store wherever there is stock availability, for dispatch from that location directly to the customer. Algorithms ensure that shipping occurs from the best geographic location, and that stock availability is maintained. This also involves anticipating any additional loads that may occur and maintaining real-time visibility of all stock, something that Retail Assist’s omnichannel supply chain solution, Merret, is designed to do. In what scenarios is Ship from Store important? The primary point of importance is that Ship from Store is a great way to maximise sales of full-price stock, rather than reduce items for sale. An example comes in the notion that stores in different areas may experience demand for different products. What sells highly in one location, may not in another. As a result of this, a store may be left with excess stock they are forced to discount or dispose of. Rather than do this, however, Ship from Store can be utilised to run the stock down, whilst maintaining profitability. From a customer viewpoint, Ship from Store can create a number of positive scenarios. Someone visiting a retailer that finds an item they wished to purchase out of stock in that location, has the potential to order and pay for it there and then, to be shipped from a store that does have it, directly to them. Not only is the product received and the customer satisfied, a positive view of the retailer as an effective bricks and mortar location is gained, and repeat visits rendered more likely. The ultimate customer experience! The sale is also secured, where there would be a potential for custom to be taken to a rival. The same applies to those ordering online; customers encountering ‘out of stock’ items may well move on to the next retailer that has the item in stock. Using Ship from Store reduces the chances of this ever happening, as inventories are checked across the entire chain of locations. In a similar way, there are many scenarios around returning products that Ship from Store helps with. Customers wishing to return an item they have ordered online can avoid the prospect of repackaging and posting an item back, but return it to a store convenient to them. This brings inevitable advantages in customer satisfaction, as well as promoting the store, and providing the…
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Retail Project Management Services
  • 13 Aug

Retail Project Management Services

Watch: Karen Millen Video If you have business transformation or technology projects upcoming, bringing in an expert can help. Our programme managers can support projects of any scale, for as long as required, with a fully managed approach. Taking the pressure off your internal teams, Retail Assist delivers end-to-end Project Management Services, whilst you focus on business as usual. As well as coordinating your own internal teams, Retail Assist’s strong industry relationships support quality 3rd party management. We’ve been working with leading global brands, such as Karen Millen, to deliver Retail Project Management to migrate their IT infrastructure from a server to a cloud-based solution. Watch our Retail Project Management Services video featuring our customer Karen Millen: Watch our Retail Project Management Services video here. Lily Lalehparvar, Project Manager – IT & Business Development at Karen Millen explains, “Retail Assist’s knowledge of our systems and end-user environment meant that they understood the importance of IT running seamlessly, in order to deliver a great customer experience that’s expected in all Karen Millen stores and online. “Retail Assist understood the need to have the ability to flex during peak trading. As we have grown as a global brand, our existing shared infrastructure just wasn’t scaling for us. The project was vital as a platform for future growth and improved performance, especially during peak trading periods as we experience a high traffic of shoppers and we can’t afford any downtime. “We required project completion before peak trading. Throughout our peak periods, the uplift in capacity allowed Karen Millen to perform well. Our service levels and systems availability were maintained without any disruption.” Retail Assist has recently moved Karen Millen’s shared iSeries infrastructure over to their own solution based at Bluechip. Retail Assist was initially tasked with finding 6 different options to solve existing infrastructure independence and capacity issues Karen Millen faced with their old shared server. Retail Assist helped advise on the preferred solution, manage the networking and configuration of the software as well as managing the entire data transition process to Bluechip. Retail Assist managed the entire process to work around and be live for a sale and peak trading target, which was successfully completed. Whether it’s hardware, software, or stores related, our project management team has technical expertise in a range of retail and hospitality projects, including: New store openings Payment solutions upgrades Ecommerce web platform upgrades Hardware rebuild and rollout Tablet configuration and rollout Large scale data migration Server upgrades and more. Click here to find out more about our Retail Project Management Services. Or email marketing@retail-assist.co.uk with your request for more information.…
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Seasalt partner with Retail Assist
  • 6 Aug

Seasalt launches new IT support partnership with Retail Assist

SEASALT GOES LIVE WITH RETAIL ASSIST’S IT HELP DESK August 2018: Cornish womenswear retailer, Seasalt, has partnered with Retail Assist for IT support. Retail Assist provides IT support for 54 Seasalt shops, its distribution centre, and design studios, including Help Desk, Remote Desktop Support, On-Site Desktop & Technical Support, Remote Technical Services and Operations Support. Retail Assist also manages third party hardware maintenance. With 54 shops across the UK, Seasalt required a service provider that could offer nationwide onsite support, with flexibility to deliver future enhancements and service options as the business expands. With 24 x 7 availability, Retail Assist acts as a single point of contact for all of Seasalt’s IT requirements. Retail Assist’s expert knowledge of the retail systems used by Seasalt further inspired confidence in the service transition. Adam Cotgreave, Business Systems Director at Seasalt, explains, “In Retail Assist, we saw a dependable support partner for our current IT network, that can add further value through proactive recommendations to support Seasalt’s future business strategy. “Culture was another important concern for Seasalt, and Retail Assist is a brilliant fit – acting as an extension of our internal teams, and working in partnership with other suppliers to deliver expert end-to-end support.” Dan Smith, CEO of Retail Assist, commented on the new relationship: “We’re delighted to partner with Seasalt to help fulfil their growth strategy. The flexibility of Retail Assist’s service offering to meet current and future requirements, along with the benefit of proactive incident reduction, will truly optimise the cost of Seasalt’s IT.” Retail Assist, which employs 220 staff and has a £15m turnover, works with over 45 high-profile retail and hospitality brands including ASOS, Karen Millen, Vue Cinemas and Pizza Hut. The business was recently named Services Company of the Year at the BCS UK IT Industry Awards, as national recognition for the quality of its managed IT services. Want to know more about our Help Desk Services? Send an enquiry here.…
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  • 30 Jul

What’s Happening On Our High Streets?

Guest blog by Andrew Busby. Andrew Busby is a former retailer, Founder & CEO of Retail Reflections and an IBM Futurist. Darwinism on the High Street and why talk of a retail apocalypse is fake news Walk down virtually any High Street today and it doesn’t take too long to come across the sad sight of a once proud retail store, now shuttered and looking forlorn. These are often iconic brands, they had a place in our lives, we enjoyed going there, spending time there. And now they’re gone; probably forever. The headlines scream “retail apocalypse” and “death of the High Street” – we could actually be forgiven for believing what we read. After all, according to statistics compiled by The Local Data Company, in 2017 5,855 UK High Street stores closed, with fashion and footwear outlets being the hardest hit. Maplin Putney High Street So, the death of the High Street is real and in future we will all be shopping online; cast as mere disciples of our online masters. Not quite. Because that’s to miss a vital ingredient; here’s why. It is true that with most of us now carrying smartphones wherever we go, online has become extremely adept at making the whole process of obtaining goods and services incredibly easy. The ‘uberisation of society’ is now truly a reality; with just a few taps on our smartphone, a meal arrives or a taxi arrives or tickets to a concert turn up. Whatever we desire, the power of online brings it right to us whenever we wish. But if you’ve ever tried getting a haircut online, you’ll know that this doesn’t hold true of everything. The changing face of retail is, unlike the headlines, an incredibly complex process, with many different factors and influences impacting it in different ways. However, fundamentally, what we are experiencing – albeit extremely rapidly – is an evolution, not a revolution. Evolution, according to Charles Darwin, is the process by which species develop through a process of natural selection of the strongest. So why is it that oft quoted external influences, such as Brexit, the weather, rising costs, rent and rates etc. in other words influences which affect all retail businesses, result in some surviving whilst others do not? What we are witnessing is a natural culling of the weakest, to allow the strongest to survive and to allow growth through new entrants; more willing, more able to adapt to change. “In the long history of humankind…those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed” – Charles Darwin Online spending in the UK continues to increase, the latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics showing that in May 2018, it had reached nearly 18% of total sales, up from just over 16% in the same period a year ago. However, it would be a fallacy to conclude that this spells the end for the High Street. For example, in research co-sponsored by IBM and NRF (National Retail Federation) in…
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  • 23 Jul

Love Island – “I’m (Brand) Loyal”

The Brands Behind Love Island It’s 8.59pm on a Monday evening. You hear the famous jingle… You run down the stairs in excitement. Your phone won’t stop buzzing, the group chat is going off! You settle down as Iain Stirling narrates to you the events of the night before. Parents, husbands and maybe even the dog will complain of your ritual, but by the end of the 8 weeks, they’ve slipped into the same routine with secret enjoyment. It’s Love Island. The craze that floods our social media channels and steers office gossip the next morning. If you haven’t watched it, you’ve definitely heard of it – let’s be honest, you had to find something else to grumble about now the World Cup is over. However, not only has this year’s Love Island taught us a lot about loyalty, it’s also enriched us with an outlook on purchase habits, particularly in the Gen Z and Millennial demographic. Sponsors of the programme include Superdrug and Missguided amongst others, and since partnering, both have seen immense financial and brand success. Superdrug saw a jump in its pre-tax profit by 16% to £92.9m last year and increased its market share to 32% in the cosmetics market. It attributed the steady financial figures to marketing campaigns such as its sponsorship of Love Island, by kitting out the islanders and hosting the ad breaks. Figures disclosing brand success at Superdrug as a direct result of sponsoring last year’s Love Island. Source: ITV Media Online fashion giant Missguided, however, has taken its sponsorship a step further. Missguided sales have reportedly spiked 40% in the evening, when the show airs, and this is down to more than just successful sponsorship. Missguided has provided clothing for Islanders on the show, giving new meaning to “buy the look”, rather than this just being a website option. Watchers of the show can see for themselves how the clothing looks, as Islanders are effectively modelling and promoting its clothing line. Targeting: The show captures a 56% share of the 16-34 demographic, targeted at females who watch TV during peak hours. This naturally aligns with Missguided who creates celebrity inspired high street fashion for females aged 16-30. Therefore, the context is already set, and Missguided fit perfectly as a sponsor, rather than brands like Lucozade and Rimmel who have had to alter their branding to force a fit. In essence, this gives Missguided direct access to their core customers 6 nights a week for 8 weeks, giving them compelling frequency and depth of engagement like no other! Product Placement: It’s also worth noting that this digital native demographic of Gen Z-ers and Millennials is highly influenced when it comes to purchasing – so the fact that Missguided is supplying the islanders with clothes, as well as appearing in most, if not all ad breaks, only enhances brand engagement and likelihood of purchase. Missguided has established its product placement further by making the clothes easily accessible, by posting natural screenshots of the islanders…
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