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Stacey Dorrian, retail expert, talks to us about OMIO PIM
  • 27 May 2020
“A lot of frustrations that I’ve come across could be resolved through a tool like this” Stacey Dorrian, retail expert, talks to us about OMIO PIM
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Lead Two weeks ago, we were proud to share with you the news about our latest product launch, OMIO PIM. It was so exciting to finally share the details of what we’ve been working on behind the scenes, especially as enabling a brand’s digital footprint is so incredibly important at this moment in time. We spoke to Stacey Dorrian, retail consultant, who worked with our OMIO PIM development team to hone our product offering and to ensure that it fully met the challenges that retail teams find themselves up against. With over 20 years of retail experience, Stacey specialised in merchandising and data analytics, with her last role as Head of Merchandising. So, what did Stacey enjoy the best about working with us on OMIO PIM? She said: “It’s been great fun working with Retail Assist on this project. It was something that, when I was first approached to do it, I was really excited because I could see that it was going to add so much value and take away so much frustration for different departments within the head office.”   Watch our interview with Stacey here.   There are so many benefits to implementing OMIO PIM across modern retail teams, including agile product creation, faster creation of new routes to market and products that are better optimised for digital selling channels. However, Stacey was most impressed with having a single port of entry and how this might impact a brand’s speed to market. She explained: “I could see with OMIO PIM that a lot of frustrations that I’ve come across could be resolved through a tool like this: being able to have all of the product information in one place for different departments across the head office, in particular, to have access to it at any given one time, being able to then disperse that information out to various channels, without the need for multiple spreadsheets. I think one of the key frustrations that I’ve found has been missing information and not knowing at what stage we’re at in being able to publish a product’s information. So, have we got the right imagery? Have we got the right SEO? Have we got the translations? There’d be more visibility across the teams to see where everybody’s at. A really fantastic part of OMIO PIM is obviously the workflow, which shows the journey of the product and the interaction of all of the teams in head office working in a more collaborative way in order to publish the information about a product out to markets.” But it’s not just benefits that will empower teams – OMIO PIM also seeks to remove many of the frustrations, too. As a retail-specific PIM, it’s been vital for our teams to work with Stacey and to understand the potential pitfalls that retail teams face, which is why we’re proud that OMIO PIM is built for retail. Explaining the challenges, Stacey said: “The retail landscape has changed so dramatically over the last…
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OMIO Motion: Get Your Stores Open Simply and Safely - Occupancy Management
  • 19 May 2020
OMIO Motion: Get Your Stores Open Simply and Safely
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Lead At Retail Assist, we’ve witnessed the immense impact that COVID-19 has had on our customers. From the closing of our high streets to helping our customers move their entire head offices to home working, there’s been an incredible amount of change in such a short space of time. And now, with store re-openings on the horizon, more change is on the way in terms of how retailers help to keep their staff and customers safe. That’s where we step in. Our new software, OMIO Motion, has been brought to the market to help retailers get back up and running as quickly and as safely as possible. OMIO Motion enables retailers to welcome staff and customers back into their stores and to start their store estate safely trading again – with a ROI in just 6 weeks. What is OMIO Motion? OMIO Motion helps your stores to monitor and alert external queues for distancing and to check on the overall well-being of your queueing customers and, unlike other monitoring software, it also caters for multiple entrances and exits. With an easy-to-use traffic light system and audible alerting, you can also manage the flow and occupancy between multiple floors, with customisable alerts to control the flow of staff and customers both inside and out. As a cloud solution, you can also enjoy cloud-based head office reporting and occupancy control via WiFi or 4G. It’s also possible to upgrade to have full spatial analytics, queue management and a shopper behavior system. Click here to watch the video on YouTube. What are the benefits of OMIO Motion? Enable your store environments to re-open and operate safely, with the confidence and controls needed to: Control, measure and report occupancy levels in line with government social distancing guidelines Reassure your visitors that their welfare is being considered and protected Reassure your staff that store spaces are not going to be overwhelmed and that they are being protected Adapt the guidelines to work with all environments across your estate Optimise safe capacity limits to ensure maximum recovery of trade View and report compliance centrally across entire estates How much does it cost? We’re happy to share pricing details for OMIO Motion. Surprised that we’re being so upfront? Don’t be. With our roots in retail, there’s no reason why we can’t be honest at a time when you need it most. With pragmatic pricing, there’s no long purchasing process and no hefty outlay. This week, Kieran Bowden, Head of Business Development, is running webinars to talk through how OMIO Motion works, what it means for your store safety and how much it costs to implement. Let OMIO Motion help you get your stores operating safely. The engineers are waiting, the store kit is in the warehouse and we’re here to help you in this next lockdown phase.   Due to popular demand, we’re running two more store re-opening webinars this week. Register using the links below: Tuesday 19th May at 11am: https://bit.ly/2AqSN7X Wednesday…
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#WFH Diaries: Scott Thompson, Editor of RTIH
  • 11 May 2020
#WFH Diaries: Scott Thompson, Editor of RTIH
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Lead It’s the fifth week of our Working From Home Diaries (where has the time gone?) and this week we’re delighted to have a special guest. Scott Thompson is editor of Retail Technology Innovation Hub, or RTIH, which is one of our favourite retail publications. Launched in 2017, it has now grown to become the leading UK-based newswire and information hub for the global retail technology community and we were very excited to interview Scott to see his take on the current retail environment.   Scott’s WFH Diary Scott, what role is retail playing in this current lockdown situation? A hugely important role. Essential retailers are a vital lifeline for Brits during the coronavirus outbreak. Food and medicine are the most obvious examples, but we also shouldn’t forget electronics and technology being ordered online to support home working, education or entertainment. These retailers are ensuring people can remain connected virtually to friends and family. What should retailers be doing now to “get it right”? There are plenty of ‘experts’ sounding off on social media right now about what retailers should be doing to ‘get it right’. And every day I get emails from PRs offering up their clients for comment on what retailers are doing wrong, what they should be doing to ensure survival etc etc. Truth be told, no-one has all the answers. One thing we can say for certain is that retailers need to remain agile and ensure they are flexible enough to meet the changing needs and habits of their customers, in a safe and efficient manner. Easier said than done, of course. So much change and innovation has happened to the retail sector in the last few weeks. What trends have you seen emerging? Dark stores, contactless delivery, curbside pick-up, the increase in the contactless payments limit as retailers try to reduce shoppers’ use of cash. These really are surreal times we’re living through. As Iceland boss Richard Walker recently commented: “It feels like we have suddenly stepped into a parallel universe, where none of the normal conventions that have framed our lives apply.” Retailers who are normally the deadliest of competitors have started talking freely to each other, sharing information and ideas, and standing shoulder to shoulder in a combined effort to feed the nation. The government has effectively nationalised the workforce and relaxed some of the normal industry competition rules. DEFRA and the British Retail Consortium are promoting industry co-ordination and co-operation as never seen before. It would be nice to think that this will continue in a post-coronavirus world, with retailers collaborating on procurement, technology, supply chain and logistics, fulfilment and last mile delivery. I’m not sure this will happen, though. So do you think retail will ever go “back to normal” or are we about to see a retail revolution? We can only speculate what the longer-term impact of Covid-19 on retail will be. Only time will tell. As I said earlier, no one has all the…
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WFH (and in the office!) Diaries: Jan Benjamin, Operations and Compliance Manager
  • 4 May 2020
#WFH (and in the office!) Diaries: Jan Benjamin, Operations and Compliance Manager
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Lead Whilst many people in our business are working from home, there are still team members whose roles require them to be physically present on site, such as at our Data Centre. This week, we hear from Jan Benjamin, Operations and Compliance Manager, who is juggling both working from home, being in the Data Centre and managing her team who are in a multitude of locations.   Jan’s Diary In many ways, for me the current COVID-19 situation has brought changes mixed with a lot of normality. Just as before life in lockdown, I get woken up very early by Bailey, my Border Collie (otherwise known as my fitness trainer!), who sits outside my bedroom door crying, so that I wake up. We then start the day with a walk, which is usually around 10-12 kilometres. Although getting up at 5.30am is an early start for a long walk, it means that we don’t bump into other dog walkers and I love getting out. I started walking a couple of years ago for fitness then discovered that I always feel better. In fact, everything feels better; it sorts my head out, we get to take in some fresh air and I get to see different wildlife – I even saw some herons this morning. My commute also hasn’t changed, other than it now takes me around 20 minutes to drive to work – previously it would have taken over an hour. The roads are much quieter and so is our office. I’m based at Retail Assist’s Data Centre and because we physically need people in the office, we’ve been balancing having one or two people in at a time. This a huge change for us, but a necessary one to keep everyone safe. Along with heavily reducing the numbers of people in the office at any one time, we’ve also moved the desks around so that we’re at least 2 metres apart at all times. It’s a bit fiddly but it has given people more space. We’ve also had to change many processes as, for the Ops team, there’s a mixture of on-site and remote work. The idea of remote working terrified me: I just wasn’t sure how we’d make it work. The biggest challenge was working out how my team could work remotely in the first place. Whilst other Retail Assist teams lend themselves better to working from home, our roles are trickier to achieve remotely, especially given that each one of our customers has a different way of connecting into our network. However, given the current climate, we have team members who are at risk or have family who are at risk, so we had to make a decision that meant everyone was safe. Although it was presented as a difficult problem, sometimes the simplest answers are the best; rather than getting loads of different kit at everyone’s house, my team are now remoting into their work PCs, then servicing our customers from…
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Working From Home Diaries: Andrew Busby
  • 27 Apr 2020
The #WFH Diaries: Andrew Busby
Edited by Anna Murphy, Communications Lead It’s the third instalment of our WFH Diaries, where we bring you the insights, reflections and essentials of people from across the retail, hospitality and logistics industries. This week’s diary is from Andrew Busby. Never one to miss a retail beat, Andrew is an author, Forbes contributor, founder of Retail Reflections and IBM Futurist. We spoke to Andrew to hear about his predictions for retail and to also hear how he’s approaching life in lockdown.   Andrew’s WFH Diary Andrew, what role is retail playing in this current lockdown situation? Pivotal. While some sectors have had to remain closed, grocers especially are keeping the country running. Now, that has always been the case, except that we never consciously realised. I would like to see retailers such as garden centres allowed to reopen as, at times like these, our mental wellbeing is paramount and gardens contribute to positive mental wellbeing. What should retailers be doing now to “get it right”? They should be doing the right thing by their staff and by their customers. Social distancing is the new hugging, so they can take a lead on that and show others – such as the hospitality vendors who aren’t yet allowed to trade yet – how to do it. So much change and innovation has happened to the retail sector in the last few weeks. What trends have you seen emerging? Hyper-local and hyper-collaboration: two trends which I sincerely hope will continue as both can only be healthy. One can only wonder at the gnashing of teeth at the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) right now. Do you think retail will ever go “back to normal” or are we about to see a retail revolution? Whatever ‘normal’ was! No, of course it can’t. In Hong Kong, for example, we’re seeing many retailers go under. The same thing will replicate itself here – of that I’ve no doubt. And for those that remain, life will be very different. Would you want to try on clothes or shoes that had potentially been worn by someone else? Ironically, this could kill the second-hand/pre-loved market: we can look forward to debates over what temperature is needed to kill the COVID-19 coronavirus in the wash cycle. And store estates will be drastically reduced as more and more activity goes online.  What’s your current working routine? Answering retail related questions like this! In terms of the way you work, what do you think the “new normal” will look like? We will very quickly realise that all that commuting, all those office blocks, all that time sat on the M25, all those hours crushed on trains, was a complete waste of time. Video calling is the new normal and going to work in your pyjamas will be the new pinstripe suit. This will have huge, barely imaginable implications for many industries and sectors of the economy. The oil industry, for example, in the US is currently trying to figure out how and…
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Working From Home Diaries - Matthew Proudlove
  • 20 Apr 2020
The #WFH Diaries! This Week We Speak to Our COO, Matthew Proudlove
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Lead It’s the next installment of our working from home diaries, as we bring you a collection of voices from our customers, journalists, influencers, commentators and Retail Assist team members, to get a good reflection on the retail, hospitality and logistics sectors and the voices within them. This week, we hear from Matthew Proudlove, Retail Assist’s COO, on family life, not driving and knowing when to switch off. Matthew’s WFH Diary I’m happily stuck at home with my family. There’s 5 of us here, including my wife, Jurga, and our three children: our eldest daughter, 18, and twins, both 15. As our kids are a bit older, we don’t have the parental balance that others have. Luckily, the kids get on really well so it’s all pretty calm! Our eldest is just finishing her first year of uni online and is very focused, whilst the twins are struggling; they’re in a bizarre situation with their GCSEs and a 5 month gap before they can focus on A Levels. We’re trying to encourage them to use this time as well as they can, but it’s tough on them. My working day starts fairly early – to me, there’s no point hanging around! I usually start work at 8am or 8.30am at the latest. Then it’s a busy day ahead; there’s a lot of emails, a lot of calls, many questions to answer, policies to change and a lot of different things to deal with. Although, in many ways, my role usually has aspects of all of those things, COVID-19 has brought different challenges to the business. The circumstances that we all find ourselves facing have adjusted quite dramatically and we’re trying to do our best as a company to respond to that. There’s no textbook answer. As I don’t have an office at home, I’ve been mainly working from our lounge. It’s not ideal, but it’s been lovely to overlook the garden. Plus, working from home during the day means that you see what’s in your garden, as a multitude of cats, foxes and even a rabbit seem to use it regularly as a thoroughfare, to an extent you wouldn’t normally realise. It certainly makes a difference to Nottingham’s city centre! What’s been really important for us as directors is that there’s teamwork across the business. I’ve been so impressed with how everyone in our team has managed – it’s been so good. We’ve got such a great bunch of people coming together to succeed in getting through this. There’s been a lot of good care about the people in our business, sticking together around isolated people and, ultimately, we’ve all been pretty calm, working hard in a calm manner. Our customers have always been part of our team ethos and this extends to them, too; we’ve been really close to our customers in a good way. We’re supporting them and they’re supporting us. Switching Off The weather’s been nice recently, so I’ve been trying to…
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Working from home diaries: Alex Broxson
  • 8 Apr 2020
The #WFH Diaries! Go behind the scenes in our latest blog series
Written by Alex Broxson, Head of Marketing With the importance of staying at home, the vast majority of us all at Retail Assist have moved our office lives back home. Whereas in the office we all followed similar rhythms, with everyone’s living situations differing and our ways of going about our working lives evolving, we’ve asked our colleagues to share their working lives with us in our latest blog series. So, whose house are we off to? This week, it’s the turn of Alex Broxson, Retail Assist’s Head of Marketing. Here, she explains juggling work commitments with a love of running, maintaining marketing strategy and trying to keep calm whilst managing her new colleagues – her two young daughters!   Working from home diaries: Alex Broxson I’m writing this during the third week of working from home. Whilst working from home is nothing new to me – I’ve done it in a previous role, and already work remotely or in different locations for Retail Assist – the difference is that now we’re all at home as a country and as a family. I’m joined by my husband, who is also really busy as a Sales Director and co-founder of his own telecoms business, and my two young daughters, aged 2 and nearly 5 (young being the operative word here!) I’m going to be honest: during the first week of lockdown, I had bit of a wobble on the first day.  Firstly, I think it was the initial shock of the COVID-19 lockdown announcement: it wasn’t a surprise, but the “officialness” of the situation just really hit me. It was also the pressure of trying to manage a really busy and responsible job and marketing team at a time of crisis, but to also all of sudden have to manage schooling for my 5 year-old, at the same time as being a parent to two kids! In a work sense, I found this difficult because I have always liked to maintain a line between the career-driven, professional me, and the me that is a parent. At first, I found it really hard to accept that my kids might walk in on a video call and cross this professional line. Whilst this now seems silly as everyone with kids is in the same situation, I didn’t want it to impact my professionalism (people that know me will probably disagree with this anyway and say I’m a bit of a prankster!) However, I needn’t have worried. It was after one of our daily conference calls that both Dan, our CEO, and Matthew, our COO, picked up on the fact that I wasn’t quite myself and called me to check I was ok. It was so great to have their support, to talk things through and discuss how I was initially finding it tough, and also to address some of my concerns, for example, if the kids walked in on one of our board calls (which as parents themselves they were absolutely fine with!).…
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Supporting the “New Normal” Count On Our Unwavering Support
  • 31 Mar 2020
Supporting the “New Normal”: Count On Our Unwavering Support
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Lead Although many businesses claim to put their customers at the heart of everything they do, for us, putting the customer (and our customer’s customer) at the centre of our operations has always been our modus operandi. That’s certainly something that will never change. So much has happened in the last two weeks that it’s been absolutely mind-boggling. For many of our customers and our partners, it’s simply not “business as usual”; the reality is that retail and hospitality sectors are facing many pressures in light of our “new normal”. So, if our customers are not “business as usual” then, by definition, neither are we. Except, for us, our business – providing the best customer support, especially at times of crisis – is unwavering. This is a time when our customers need to count on our support, more than ever. So, whilst the world has changed, our core objective hasn’t: we’re here to support our customers, no matter what the current situation throws at them. Working From Home So, what have our teams been doing? Like many businesses up and down the country – and, indeed, around the world – we’ve seen huge shifts of teams taking their work from the office to their homes. We’ve built many laptops, installed software and continue supporting VPNs, so that our customers can continue their work, no matter where they’re based. We’ve enabled our users to work remotely, ensuring their operations are as consistent as possible. One of the qualities we pride ourselves on is our ability to evolve; in our 20 years of trading, we’ve always been proactive in our approach, been able to react swiftly and to provide support no matter what the changing needs of our customers are. Now is no different; whatever issues COVID-19 throws at us or the sanctions being placed on our society to minimise the threat, our teams are here to consider the best IT support that underpins their operations. So, although your business isn’t “usual”, our key objective remains the same. Dan Smith, our CEO, said: “Our initial focus has been on assisting our partners of the last 20 years, and Retail Assist has naturally prioritised our customers over requests we have received from outside our existing client base. We are here, like our clients, for the long term and we are supporting them in moving towards the “new normal”. There is no need to make a drama out of a crisis: this is the time for a measured and supportive response.” Customer Support We’re so proud of our internal teams and the way they have worked together to provide incredible support to our customers, especially at a time where they need it most. It turns out that many of our customers feel the same. We’ve been delighted to hear the positive feedback from our customers about our teams’ work over the last couple of weeks. Here’s just some of the lovely things they had to say. Is your IT…
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The New Working Week? For Us, It’s Business as Usual – But With Many More Offices!
  • 23 Mar 2020
The New Working Week? For Us, It’s Business as Usual – But With Many More Offices!
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Lead In just one week, people around the United Kingdom have faced many changes. As the response to COVID-19 has developed, millions of people have juggled changes not just to their working week, but also with social restrictions, limitations and new routines to put in place. So, with all the changes taking place, how have we at Retail Assist adapted to working from home? Here’s a look behind the scenes. Working Remotely Like many people around the country, we’ve seen the majority of our team move to working from home. We’ve seen big changes as we’ve moved from 8 offices to over 200 locations! Rae Hayward, our Head of People, said: “All of those who are working from ‘other locations’ have set themselves up well and we are encouraging use of video calls and sending daily updates. For our Data Centre colleagues, some are still safely working a shift from the office whilst others are working from home, to decrease the numbers of people that are within the vicinity.” Jordon Graham, Digital Executive, said: “Having worked from home as a freelancer prior to joining Retail Assist, I think that it’s easy to feel disconnected. As a marketing team, we’re making sure to keep in touch, but also to stay in contact with as many people as possible – especially in times like these – everyone is in the same boat and will be happy to hear from you!” Keep reading for more working from home tips from Danielle Bamra, from our Client Services team. Sneak peek! Here’s a look at some of our team’s new working spaces.   Business as Usual Whilst our office postcodes may have expanded somewhat, the level of service we provide hasn’t dropped. In fact, our call stats and call volumes show that it’s been very much business as usual – and that we have been helping more client head office users to sort out their remote access to systems. Kevin Greathead, Chief Services Officer, said: “We’ve reached the end of a very busy week and we now have most of our team members working from home, whilst several are still helping clients on-site. Over the week, we observed a gradual decrease across both incoming calls and incidents as we progressed further into the week, which is what we anticipated. “However, the number of incidents raised remained higher than the previous week due to a number of head office users reporting issues within their VPN connectivity. A big thank-you to everyone for their patience and good humour through this transition.”   Customer Support We’ve always been proud to keep the customer at the centre of our business and that has been true now more so than ever. Bill Parker, IT Service Delivery Manager at Pizza Hut Restaurants, got in touch with us to share his feedback of our teams’ reactions to the COVID-19 situation. He said: “I just wanted to thank you all for the sterling work you and your teams have…
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Digital City Festival 2020: Our Top Takeaways
  • 16 Mar 2020
Digital City Festival 2020: Our Top Takeaways
By Anna Murphy, Communications Lead The famous Tony Wilson quote of “This is Manchester: we do things differently here” was certainly celebrated as the Digital City Festival opened its doors over 9th – 13th March 2020. Showcasing the best in digital, it had various speakers across tech, retail, marketing, eCommerce and the media, we walked the show floor to bring you our top takeaways. Adam Warne, CIO at the N Brown Group, spoke about his experience as a modern CIO joining such a well-established company and how they’re using technology to bring innovation. He said: “This might be a big claim, but we believe we were the first business to use the Royal Mail’s parcel service to ship products to customers. It doesn’t sound that exciting today but it was revolutionary when we started in 1883. “Now, we’re trying to become 100% digital, which is quite a target when you consider that some customers still send us cash through the post. Whilst some of our customers are in their teens, some are in their late 90s. Despite that, the app today is one of our fastest growing channels. We needed to change, otherwise our competitors would overtake us.” He also discussed innovation across product range. Displaying a few of the products across the N Brown Group range, such as a pair of size 18 trainers and a pair of 54” waist jeans, Adam said: “Using technology, we’ve scanned thousands of bodies to see how people’s bodies change and grow. We’re always trying to get the perfect fit, regardless of shape or size. We want to be the most loved inclusive fashion retailer in the industry. How can we make all of our customers look and feel amazing?” Conor McIlduff, Channable’s Business Development UK team, spoke about how brands can create exciting and elaborate ways of connecting with their customers. He said: “Just because your offering is neither exciting nor glamorous, it by no means indicates that you can’t have loyal customers. Channable was able to break free from the traditional tech stereotype to build a fiercely loyal customer base.” He explained that Channable was able to build a strong network of brand ambassadors and hold events such as its popular “Customers’ Day”, where Channable ran user experience demos of their feed management solution, eCommerce talks and networking sessions. Also speaking was Colin Neil, SVP Business Development at payment company, Adyen. He explanined the importance of remaining agile and needing to keep pace with changing customer needs, including a ‘tech first’ approach. He said: “Technology should be about the enablement to grow. Speed to market is really, really important and retailers are moving away from traditional banks and legacy systems because they don’t move quickly enough. “Omnichannel is a funny term – you should just call it retailing now. It’s all about having one view of the customer.” To read more of our industry insights, subscribe to our blog here.…
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