IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality


  • 18 Jun

How Much Time Can You Save By Using A WMS?

As in any business, time is money in the retail sector. Saving time can mean focussing on increased sales potential, business growth, and seeing increased profits. Implementing a Warehouse Management System (WMS) can provide cost savings in a number of ways; all of which have the end result of a better running, more efficient and profitable retail operation. Managing inventory more efficiently Efficiency savings directly relate to time savings; retailers dealing with inventories that rely on rapid stockturns and quick transitions from supplier to customer need a process that is quick, dependable and slick. The benefits of taking a fast fashion approach to stock are of course that waste is minimalised, warehouse costs lowered, and overstocking reduced. The downside is that any problems in delivering the inventory can bring things to a halt and wreak havoc with customer expectations. As these issues usually centre around poor planning and large fluctuations in demand, a WMS can help by collecting and analysing trends and allowing closer control of inventory levels. Efficient picking patterns Warehouses are by nature, vast units, which are time consuming to walk around. The time that can be saved during the manual picking process can be instrumental to increasing warehouse efficiency. Second-accurate stock information held by a WMS, with real time visibility of its exact location, means that pickers should never visit a location that doesn’t have accurate stock. This saves time through items being readily available in exactly the right place, rather than a picker returning from a wasted journey with empty hands. ‘Omnichannel picking’ also offers the flexibility to pick multiple orders at once, rather than one by one, which means that a picker saves time by never visiting the same location twice. Retail Assist’s WMS even has options to begin picking items straight from the point of delivery before initial put-away, which means that stock can be sold on your shop floors on the same day. This is a huge pragmatic advantage of a WMS, especially relevant for new items or bestsellers. Improved quality A large amount of time is lost in the warehouse if products are put away without being adequately checked, which means that at the time of picking, time is wasted bringing poor quality items back to the packing table, to find that they are unsuitable for the customer order. If a WMS has an optional 2 stage intake process (checking and putaway), this offers the ability to carry out intake checking, with integrated Quality Control measures for efficient handling of stock. Better supplier relations Having good relations with suppliers can also result in time savings. A WMS can provide alerts and updates as to when suppliers will arrive, meaning that neither they nor the retailer are kept waiting. Information can be shared and time spent waiting for deliveries that may be delayed can be eliminated, increasing the efficiency of the warehouse workforce. Retail Assist’s integrated supplier management system runs throughout the intake system, allowing for better supplier monitoring. This control and capture…
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Purchase Order Management
  • 11 Jun

Purchase Order Management Definition

Purchase Order Management: Retail Definitions Purchase Order Management in retail. What is PO management? How do I implement automatic PO creation? How can I improve my purchase order management? How to improve the processing of purchase orders? How do I raise purchase orders in retail? Can I have flexible purchase orders in retail? What is Purchase Order Management Purchase order management is a standard part of any retail business; buying teams create purchase orders to place and manage orders with chosen suppliers. As well as being the source of financial commitment information, purchase order management systems can also provide centralised visibility over order status. Being able to view the status of all global orders in one location is a key benefit of automating the purchase order process. Teams across the business can view important moments in the PO process, for example which purchase orders have been approved and rejected, and which purchase orders have been sent. Parameters can also be set within the system for workflow approvals, and financial budgets set for buyers to prevent overspending. Purchase order management facilitates this level of accuracy and authority. Purchase order management also ensures that retailers maintain an audit trail, which can support better supplier relationships with increased transparency. Increased flexibility with suppliers is also facilitated by a purchase order management system, supporting flexible purchase orders: there is no need to re-raise orders for incomplete deliveries, as the system permits receipt of additional deliveries. Multi-drop purchase orders allow larger commitments to be made with suppliers, with stock is phased into the business to suit requirements. Whilst flexible, these processes exert a level of control over the supplier relationship. As we move into the era of automation, automatic purchase order creation defaults can be set by user to speed up purchase order processing, as well as a copy function for faster processing of similar purchase orders. Increasing efficiencies is the top of most retailers’ agendas. Retail Assist’s purchase order management solution has been developed for today’s dynamic omnichannel environment, and offers many benefits, including: Budgetary Control: Minimise financial risk with authoritative (hierarchical approval) and monetary (buying budgets) parameters. Complete landed costs, including the product as well as freight and duty, means retailers can see the full impact of purchasing decisions before approval. Automated PO processing: A centralised system provides the ability to share purchase order templates for quicker processing, and built-in approval workflows means that purchase orders are verified more efficiently. Streamline communications: All purchasing documents are centralised in one location, accessible from anywhere. This makes purchase order referencing far less painful, especially for supplier relationships.…
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Retail IT Outsourcing
  • 4 Jun

Retail’s need for speed: beyond digital

Accelerating tech investment? Keep the customer in mind. Tech releases: the ASOS effect A few months ago, ASOS’ Nick Beighton commented that the fashion etail giant released 1,200 tech (code) updates in the last 6 months, double the number in the previous year. Visual search, try-before-you-buy, accelerating the use of AI: you name it, ASOS has pioneered it. Due to the increasing demands of customers for innovative technology within their shopping journey, some retailers have even released new software updates twice per hour, as they push to keep up with the likes of Amazon, ASOS, and soaring consumer expectations. Furthermore, 91% claim they will need to release updates even faster in the future. Excellent news for the customer experience – or is it? IT, can you support it? 74% of retail businesses have acknowledged that the “need for speed” in technology innovation could actually be detrimental to the customer experience (Dynatrace survey of over 200 CIOs in the retail sector). “Shoppers expect the steady flow of new e-commerce features and updates to work perfectly, without compromise. The challenge for retail IT teams is to deliver fast, while moving to a cloud native architecture and maintaining user experience” – Dynatrace. Putting the customer at the heart of your technology roadmap, and getting closer to them through technologies such as AI, is a common driver for IT focus this year. IT teams today spend a third of their time resolving issues, rather than focussing on business-as-usual, which can be detrimental to pursing an innovation-based strategy. 78% also commented that their business has experienced IT project delays that could have been prevented if IT teams could collaborate more easily and resolve problems more quickly. Check out how our IT Outsourcing model could support you to deliver faster projects with greater efficiency, and fewer technical errors. What’s more, we are supporting retailers with proactive incident reduction to ensure that technology issues do not impact on the customer experience.…
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Stock Replenishment
  • 29 May

What is Stock Replenishment?

What is Stock Replenishment? Stock Replenishment in retail. What is stock replenishment? How do I implement auto replenishment? How can I improve my stock replenishment? What is the benefit of auto replenishment? Read on to find out more about the most profitable replenishment solution for the omnichannel retailing. Stock Replenishment Definition Stock replenishment is a standard retail practice, to ensure that the right products are in the best place, at the optimum quantity. Retailers can automate replenishment using intelligent algorithms, which can be particularly beneficial during promotional or seasonal events. Replenishment is essential to avoid stock-outs. Can you distribute stock between your warehouse and stores, dynamically, and with 100% accuracy? That’s the requirement for every modern retailer today, operating with an omnichannel mentality, especially during peak periods and promotions. Improving your replenishment processes can support this. Retailers must be able to move stock quickly between different locations, such as stores, concessions and franchises, and partners, whilst also maintaining healthy warehouse stock for ecommerce orders. A central stock pool facilitates this flexibility. Increased speed to sell is just one of the benefits of optimum stock replenishment, ensuring that the customer is delivered the item that they demand, in increasingly fast timescales. Dependable automated replenishment, reducing the possibility of stock-outs, improves the customer experience by ensuring that products are more readily available across all channels, avoiding the dreaded “out of stock”. Stock replenishment isn’t just a process: analytically speaking, it can also help retailers to forecast more accurately with complete visibility of their global inventory and demand. Performance at SKU/Site level is automatically reviewed and ideal stock levels can be increased or decreased accordingly, enabling more full price items to be sold. Changes to future stock levels can also be forecast and systemically defined prior to specific activity e.g. promotional events.  Retail Assist’s auto replenishment solution has been developed for today’s dynamic omnichannel environment, and offers many benefits, including: Optimised sales: Order the right amount of product, to be delivered at the correct time, to the best place. Better stock replenishment maintains optimum inventory levels on all products so that you can sell more effectively where and when it is needed. Reduced mark-downs: Optimised stock levels allow you to fulfil your customer demand with fewer stock outs. With a greater sell through of full priced stock and a reduced rate of markdown, margins are protected and profits soar. Maximise stock turn: Confidently fulfil customer demands without inflating your levels of inventory, preventing over and under stocking, both of which damage business profitability. To find out more about replenishment visit our replenishment webpage here. Retail Assist offers 21 omnichannel scenarios for flexible and profitable use of your stock, e.g. Ship-from-Store, Deliver to address, click-and-collect. Want to invest in your retail IT infrastructure with improved store replenishment? Make an enquiry by filling out our quick form or email marketing@retail-assist.co.uk for one of our experts to get in touch with you.…
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Retail Allocation
  • 21 May

5 Steps to Successful Retail Allocation

Retail Allocation Systems Having sufficient stock levels is a vital component of any successful retail business, and is something rendered ever more important by changing consumer habits. Immediacy has become a dominant force in retail, and has significantly enhanced the need for stock to be available in the right place, at the right time. Using a retail allocation system is the best way to make retail allocation a more efficient process, in order to meet new and increasing demands. Allocation is the initial process of distributing stock upon delivery from the supplier, through the warehouse, and to a retailer’s various locations. 1: Implement a retail allocation system Using retail allocation systems and software helps retailers adopt new approaches to stock. Data can be gathered, interpreted and analysed from shopper behaviour and habits, in order to get a more localised and specific idea of what sells well in different locations. The process is sometimes referred to as ‘localisation analytics’ and supports effective store grading. Items that may be big sellers in a certain location may not sell nearly as well in another. Recognising and monitoring this can ensure that stock is allocated to the location it is needed most, avoiding low or overstocking. 2: Learn from your data This also provides the opportunity for retailers to encourage sales by pushing stock of a similar type, or that a certain type of shopper may favour, to certain locations. Having a system that allows this information to be analysed for future forecasting is something retailers can profit from. Not only are retailers able to react to trends, they are even able to predict them. The power of data within retail allocation is significant. Pre-Allocation tactics 3: Pre-allocate stock The way in which a retailer deals with their pre-allocation is important to consider during initial stock intake. Pre-allocation refers to products that have been decided at the time of purchase order management, and has the advantage of reduced handling time at the distribution centre, thanks to an ‘in and out’ approach. Using a retail allocation system which recognises and flags pre-allocated stock is highly beneficial in any retail allocation strategy. This removes the need for it to be subject to a put-away process, meaning that it can make its way to retail outlets much more quickly, fulfilling customer demand faster, and increasing sales potential. As well as improving relationships with customers, who are more likely to be satisfied, a smoother warehouse processing thanks to pre-allocation can also mean that suppliers are kept happier. Manual Allocation 4: Reacting quickly to changes Manual allocation is a useful secondary process, for example if there has been a smaller number of products delivered than anticipated, and another delivery needs to be allocated soon afterward. 5: Ensuring stores have the right product Retail Assist’s retail allocation system within Merret also has the functionality to define and recognise allocation exclusions. This can be particularly useful for global retailers trading in lots of different countries: for example, do not allocate certain…
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product information management system
  • 14 May

Retail Definitions: What is PIM?

What is PIM? What is PIM? How do I implement a PIM? How can I improve my retail PIM? What is the benefit of PIM? What does PIM stand for? Read on to find out more about the most profitable product management solution for the omnichannel world: we’re helping leading retail brands achieve this. PIM Definition Definition: PIM stands for Product Information Management, a software solution that helps a retailer manage its products via a centralised system. The number of contributing retail teams, and the varying detail they require surrounding the product, calls for a single system capable of unifying product information in one accurate, real-time view.  PIM benefits retailers in several ways. Firstly, it’s an efficient way to boost accuracy. In a given season, the average retailer introduces more than 60% new products to its inventory, with 20% errors due to duplicate information, which impacts operations as well as the customer experience. Add to this the need for retailers to react to market conditions: teams need to be able to modify and update pricing, descriptions and attributes, quickly and efficiently. Improving product attribution, especially online, captures sales that might otherwise have been lost by improving product visibility in the search function. When a customer begins a search, either broad or specific, online or offline, they expect to find the item they want, fast. Retailers that can deliver relevant results in a fraction of the time will succeed. As the shelf-life of retail products diminishes, with some having as little as 6-8 weeks on sale, creating and launching products must be accelerated in order to remain competitive. Industry analysts have reported that retailers with shorter supply chain lead times experience much greater sales growth (Goldman Sachs, 2017). PIM can help introduce new products faster than the competition, meaning that customers demanding new trends are satisfied, improving brand loyalty, and increasing sales growth. Retail Assist’s supply chain software has been developed for today’s dynamic omnichannel environment with the following points in mind; Thinking across channels. If product attributes are not provided in the correct format for different channel partners, your product will fall low in searches, decreasing brand visibility. PIM software removes the need for different systems for different channels, which makes the acceptance process easier to manage. Flexible attribution to suit the user. An ecommerce team uses product attributes to create trends and “stories”, which might display all items in a certain look. In the warehouse, operators have a better view over the items in the order if the product descriptions are relevant. Unique but consistent. Shared workflow processes within PIM allow the extended retail business and third parties to engage in the product enrichment process. Ensuring that this is centralised in one single format with no duplication is a key benefit of PIM.  To find out more about PIM download our free retail whitepaper here. If you have any further questions about ‘What is PIM’, or want to invest in your retail IT infrastructure, please get in touch with…
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RBTE 2018 blog
  • 8 May

RBTE 2018: Technology Takeaways

RBTE 2018, taking place last week at Olympia London, offered a packed-out agenda with the latest retail technology on the Show floor, and industry insights shared across 4 conference theatres. Here are our RBTE 2018 video highlights! Katie Anderson reports in our top technology round up vlog from the Show.  RBTE 2018 video highlights You can view the video on our YouTube channel here. What else did we see at RBTE 2018? Pepper: Robots and CX   Just met @peppertherobot! Is this the future of in-store consumer interaction? #retailtech #cx #retail #rbte2018 @rbtexpo pic.twitter.com/i5LY9CoXaf — Retail Assist (@RetailAssist) May 3, 2018 If you’ve attended a technology conference in the last year, chances are that you will have met this little guy before. Pepper the Robot, representing the possibility of robotics in retail stores, has the potential to enhance several areas of the customer experience, becoming an alternative to an information kiosk/or tablet, offering a walking/talking service. It can show you where to find a product, “read” your facial expressions and interact accordingly, and even recommend products based on the clothes you wear. For all the buzz, we’re yet to remain convinced that robots will replace humans in-store entirely, especially in the fashion retail sector. Human-human interaction and expert product recommendations have a place in fashion that cannot be replicated in a truly sophisticated manner by robotics – for now anyway! .@PepperTheRobot has been developed to provide a richer #CustomerExperience, acting as a ‘middlerobot’ to assist store staff. #rbte2018 #rbte18 #rbte #retailtech #cx pic.twitter.com/zw8lt2RC6X — Retail Assist (@RetailAssist) May 3, 2018 Robots’ potential for enhancing the customer experience comes hand in hand with a human – a middle bot. For example, going to retrieve a product for the fitting room or check stock levels, whilst the sales associate interacts with the customer. ASOS: the story of retail success We were privileged to attend a keynote conference session at RBTE 2018 with Brian McBride, Chairman of ASOS. His session on ‘Evolve or Die’ involved fascinating insights on ASOS’ success, as well as lessons for all retailers to learn this year. Being online-only gives a competitive advantage to ASOS: they are able to know a lot more than their high street competitors, thanks to the huge amount of data their customers share with them. The challenge that high street retailers face is that the only data they usually collect is the bank the customer made the transaction with, unless they are making an omnichannel order requiring more detail. McBride went on to explain that machine learning and AI has helped ASOS to offer some of the best personalisation available. Since most ASOS customers are millennials – or better, Gen Z – they’ve been quick to adapt and have made extensive use of new features like visual search. ASOS the unstoppable vs the Amazon Effect Good to see ex-Amazon UK boss and now ASOS chairman, Brian McBride, at #RBTE2018. Paraphrasing Darwin, he says survival of the fittest in the current business world typically comes…
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RBTE 2018 video
  • 4 May

RBTE 2018 Video: Top Technology

As you get back into the office after a busy two days at Europe’s biggest retail technology Expo, we bring you our RBTE 2018 video highlights! Katie Anderson reports in our top technology round up video from the Show. What were the highlights at RBTE 2018? You can view the video on our YouTube channel here. Fintech meets Fashion: Qivos As you’ll hear in the interview above, Qivos’ CEO Vagelis Karalis notes the importance of creating a jewellery item that could pay, rather than creating another wearable payment device. Qivos’ world-first partnership with Links of London and Folli Follie shows exactly this: that fashion forward payment devices are a real departure from the gadgets we have seen in previous years. With a simple contactless tap, the wearer can pay for any item with Qivos’ Visa-verified jewellery pieces. They improve safety (no need for cash/cards), user experience (simple, one-tap contactless payment), and are designed with the wearer in mind. Mercaux X Olapic Retail Assist has worked with Olapic on a previous project, to bring social media streams of user generated Karen Millen content into our Nexpo Store of the Future, with #MyKM. At RBTE, it was great to see that Olapic has now partnered with Mercaux, to bring the best UGC to Mercaux’s mobile platform. We were impressed with how seamless the customer journey is from inspiration to transaction – with just two clicks to purchase – which you can watch in the demo above with Ed Addo from Olapic. Virtual Reality: the Omnichannel edition VR first came onto the scene a few years ago, as a piece of technology that created an immersive gaming/entertainment experience, with no real user case for the retail sector. At RBTE 2018 we were impressed to try out GK Software SE’s VR solution, which integrates with a retailer’s stock pool and store systems, in order to provide an end-to-end omnichannel journey. Purchasing straight from the headset in a realistic high street setting, the order doesn’t always have to be fulfilled online – as the store is also notified of the transaction activity to allow store fulfilment, should it be the more cost-effective option.  We can’t believe another RBTE has come to an end, and are already looking forward to next year! It was great to meet up with clients, partners, and new faces. What were your Show highlights? Comment on our retail technology blog below.…
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RBTE 2018 Retail Assist
  • 30 Apr

RBTE 2018: Top Trends Prediction

What will be the top trends at RBTE 2018? It’s just 2 days to go until this year’s RBTE, 2-3rd May at Olympia London. To meet up with any of the Retail Assist team over the 2 days, please email marketing@retail-assist.co.uk. See you there! Look out for our live updates from RBTE 2018 on our Twitter page @RetailAssist. We’ll be rounding up our insights in an RBTE video update later this week, which you can see on our YouTube channel. So, with NRF, Retail Week Live, and World Retail Congress behind us, what do we expect to be the top trends at RBTE 2018?… The Fast and The Furious One of our favourite insights from the recent World Retail Congress in Madrid comes from Retail Reflections: “If you’re not obsessed with speed, you’re probably obsessing about the wrong thing.” “Rapid ultra-fast adoption of technology is undoubtedly now at the core of modern retailing but combined with a willingness to realise that the rules have changed”, says Andrew Busby. With a call for new experiences, and faster trend adoption,  retailers must start creating new rules to play by. Gen Z’s comfort with a fast pace of change allows retailers to bring out their latest technology innovations quicker than ever before, with reduced fears of low adoption. AI or Die Retailers recognise that to manage and support future growth, they need to invest in technology. One of the industry’s greatest success stories, ASOS, is seeing that a rising capex and greater investment in technology is paying dividends. ASOS completed 1,200 tech updates during the last six months alone. In this space, AI has taken up the most attention. On the subject of AI, Nick Beighton comments: “[AI] is going to be a game-changer for us in many important areas, not only improving customer experience but also lowering the cost of how we operate our business model.” We expect RBTE will place huge importance on harnessing the power of AI, to improve customer engagement, empower employees and optimise operations. Predicted AI buzzwords: accuracy, efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Why tech must enhance, not challenge On the subject of efficiency, we have seen increasing emphasis on the need to empower the retail workforce. Mercaux’s Sales Assist app. Providing the detailed information that customers want – on products, their availability, and delivery options – removes the risk of lost sales and customer churn. Customers are satisfied because they don’t have to wait for store associates, and store associates are happy in the knowledge that they can provide accurate, personalised information. If you want to see our partner solution in action, make sure to check out Mercaux on stand J141.…
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  • 23 Apr

Mercaux’s Top 3 Trends Ahead of RBTE 2018

An RBTE 2018 guest blog from our partner Mercaux, by Bhavna Sakhrani. Mercaux’s Top 3 Trends Ahead of RBTE 2018 2018 has been the year for transformation at scale. As the Amazon effect continues to impact the retail industry, improving customer experience and thus increasing store sales are at the core of retailers’ in-store strategies. Most importantly, it is an opportune time to implement solutions that blend the online and offline shopping journey to create a seamless experience that is unique and memorable. With just one week left before the industry’s biggest event of the year, the Mercaux team has highlighted a few key themes and innovations we expect to see at this year’s Retail Business Technology Expo (RBTE) on May 2nd & 3rd. 1) Creating Unique and Memorable In-store Experiences Customers in retail stores come in search of a physical experience that blends the convenience of purchasing online with the human element of shopping in-store. For customers who know what they want and are simply in search of a particular product, they can go online to purchase for the convenience and rapidity of e-commerce. However, those who come to buy in-store, come to explore, seek inspiration and guidance, and expect a superior customer experience. One way for retailers to deliver an impactful experience is by offering styling suggestions and outfit recommendations to create a personalised inspirational experience. Mercaux’s Digital Styling app features a looks gallery with marketing and UGC content, looks created by sales people via digital outfit builder, product cross-selling and alternative recommendations. The solution is powered by an AI-driven engine to deliver seamless personal styling experiences in-store and allows sales associates to email outfits to their customers for further engagement. 2) Improve Store Operations and Efficiency Visual Merchandising is one component that highly impacts the overall look and feel of the store, which in turn affects the customer’s willingness to buy and come back. With “fast fashion” trends becoming even more important, effective and consistent communication between Head Office and Visual Merchandising teams should be a high priority for all retailers. Retailers looking to improve efficiencies and simplify existing processes should consider technology platforms that offer real time communication features. Mercaux’s recently released Visual Merchandising tool offers features such as mobile store reports, real time feedback and notifications, and the ability to track, compare and review all Visual Merchandising guidelines. 3) Blend the Online and Offline Shopping Journey with In-store Technology Today, customers entering retail stores are channel agnostic and use multiple devices to research products and get acquainted with brands. Retailers can benefit from blending the online and offline experience by empowering their sales people with in-store mobile technology to enhance the end-to-end shopping journey, from product discovery and styling inspiration to instant checkout. Creating a seamless experience that is powered by technology enables discovery, generates new demand, and builds relationships. With a digital infrastructure in place, stores will: Become a marketing channel where customers can browse through digital content Carry less stock, but sell more…
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