IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality


How technology can improve the hospitality customer experience
  • 30 Sep 2019
Eat In or Tech Away? How Technology Can Improve the Hospitality Customer Experience
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Lead It’s hard to imagine a hospitality experience before technology. At this point in the 21st Century, the thought of a hospitality business not having a social media presence seems absurd, with EPOS systems now ubiquitous, online ordering systems commonplace, electric order screens being utilised in restaurant kitchens, iPads being used to deliver customer receipts, or even robots used to deliver food (as was the case for Alibaba’s restaurant, Freshippo). Whilst there are many aspects of hospitality that can only be benefited from a warm welcome and a friendly face, what new developments in retail technology solutions can further improve the hospitality customer experience? And what are the emerging trends in the hospitality sector? Recognition Technology Prevalent in other aspects of life, the ability to recognise images, faces and fingerprints is perfect for the hospitality industry. Access to hotel and guest accommodation, for example, can be granted based on recognition of biometric data, whilst orders can be made based on images and purchases conducted instantly. There can also be considerable security benefits as well as a streamlining of the management processes that occur in any hospitality business. Tablets and mobile technology It’s one of the most common retail industry technology solutions of the past decade and now the idea of using a mobile or tablet to conduct a transaction is so installed in the minds of customers. However, the impact it can bring to the hospitality industry is perhaps still to be exploited; key cards for hotels could be issued via mobile phones, guest check-ins done via tablets and room service orders conducted using in-room devices are just three areas which can be more widespread and utilised. Restaurant, café and bar menus could be studied at tables via tablets, with orders being placed via the same method. However, like all methods of technology, ensuring that the correct structure is in place to support in-store IT equipment is paramount to maintaining a consistent and seamless hospitality customer experience. Our award-winning IT Help Desk already provides support to key hospitality businesses, such as Vue and Pizza Hut Restaurants, to safeguard their systems and to enable our hospitality customers the opportunity to grow and expand. Augmented and Virtual Reality Although Virtual Reality is certainly nothing new, it could potentially influence how hospitality businesses market and promote themselves to potential customers. By allowing the user to fully explore a virtual environment by placing themselves in it, it is the ideal tool to use to show people what they are booking; rooms can be looked at, areas fully explored, and customer satisfaction improved as they discover exactly how environments will be before they arrive. Augmented reality differs slightly in that it doesn’t require such complex technology and can therefore be more accessible to a wider range of people. Customers can use their smartphone or tablet to create ‘information overlays’: for instance, pointing their device at something and seeing something extra, displayed on their screen. Uses in the hospitality world could…
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Best Food
  • 10 Dec 2018
How Retail Assist supports Best Food Logistics
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Executive Director of IT for Best Food Logistics, Cindy Howarth-Stares, praised Retail Assist for their on-going support in the latest of our Customer Testimonial Series. Best Food Logistics, formerly Bidvest, partners with many household names in the food, drink and hospitality sector, such as KFC, Pizza Express, Pret a Manger, Pizza Hut, Zizzi’s, ASK Italian, TGI Fridays and Burger King. Cindy said: “We pride ourselves on fantastic customer service to our clients. We needed to find an IT support provider who mirrored that and provided the same level of service to their clients as we provide to ours. “With effective and efficient call resolution, we’re able to plan for the future.” Retail Assist provides Help Desk support, technical support, project management, asset management and desktop management for Best Food Logistics. Cindy continued: “I run a really lean team at Best Food Logistics, so having access to an experienced project management team who know our business and know our strategy is invaluable. “They act as an extension of the internal team.” Click here to watch the video on YouTube Retail Assist’s Managed Services team provide proactive support to both retail and hospitality customers. From working alongside an existing IT team to even becoming a customer’s entire IT department, we can underpin a customer’s entire business, whatever the level of support required. If you would like more information on the support we provide to Best Food Logistics, click here to request a case study, or email Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the next video in our Customer Testimonial Series or, if you’d like to watch more of our videos, click here.…
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  • 3 Dec 2018
“They care about our business as much as their own”
Retail Assist and Vue International join forces for an inter-vue Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Executive At Retail Assist, we keep our customer’s customer at the heart of everything we do. Ensuring that our clients – and their customers – receive the best levels of service is paramount and it is this belief that we have built our business foundations on. This month sees the launch of our Customer Testimonial Series, where we speak to our clients regarding our work together and the many ways in which we support them. Our first interview is with Roland Jones, Executive Director of Technical Services at Vue International. Retail Assist have supported Vue since 2009, when we took responsibility for the management of user support and technical service management in both Vue’s Head Office and across their entire cinema estate. Having experienced significant growth in the UK and internationally, Vue’s technological assets are critical to the service that they offer their customers; underpinning this structure with Retail Assist’s Help Desk support has seen a reduction in incident volumes and, in 2014, saw Vue International renew their contract for another five years. Roland said: “As a supplier, I find them (Retail Assist) an extension of my own organisation – and you don’t find that with every supplier. “I have always got the feeling – and continue to have – that they care about our business as much as their own.” Click here to watch the video on YouTube Retail Assist’s Help Desk provides a single point of contact 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for all business support calls covering facilities management and technology. If you would like more information on the support we provide to Vue International, click here to request a case study, or email Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the next video in our Customer Testimonial Series or, if you’d like to watch more of our videos, click here.…
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biometric payments
  • 2 Oct 2017
Top 3 Takeaways: Restaurant Tech Live 2017
What’s the future of restaurant technology? Last week we attended Restaurant Tech Live and Takeaway & Restaurant Innovation at the ExCeL exhibition centre, London. Both exhibitions offered rich insight into the innovations and concepts transforming the restaurant and hospitality industry. In this feature blog, we share our top 3 takeaways from the Show. Top priorities are ease and speed The key theme emerging from the Expo seminars, and the exhibitors themselves, was the increasing importance of ease and speed within the restaurant customer journey. Neil Manhas, MD of Pizza Hut UK and Yum brands, delivered an engaging keynote on how Pizza Hut’s growth has been achieved by transforming their guest experience. Retail Assist is proud to support this, as our Help Desk supports Pizza Hut’s restaurant estate with 24 x 7 IT Support services. Neil shared that 75% of Pizza Hut’s sales now come through digital channels, thanks to an acute focus on improving the online user experience. Since overhauling online ordering UX, Pizza Hut’s customers experience a 61% faster checkout requiring 50% less clicks – showcasing the importance of ease of journey, and speed of order. With continuous improvement embedded into their company culture, every day there are 50 different Pizza Hut website releases with ongoing testing. Emphasising the importance of omnichannel experience, Neil concluded that “there is little point having great digital experience if the rest of the journey isn’t solid”. This also goes for the physical restaurant experience. Statistics shared at the Expo stated that the number one frustration in restaurants is waiting times. With an average of 20 minutes to order/get the bill, this must be addressed in order to improve the customer experience. This also means that businesses can’t afford for their IT and technology systems to go down. The latest frontier in biometric payment technology By 2020, it is expected that more than $5.6 trillion in payments will be secured by biometric technology. Apple’s latest generation of iPhones have already shown signs of the shift towards biometrics, with the iPhone X using Face ID for security functions instead of the traditional fingerprint. Fingopay, developed by Sthaler, is the world’s earliest customer identification technology powered by Vein ID biometrics. It has launched with payment providers Visa and Worldpay. So how does biometric payment work? Your vein pattern within your finger is completely unique, and remains the same during your lifetime. Unlike fingerprints, it can’t be damaged, stolen or faked. Fingopay Vein ID reads the pattern by using infrared light, and then converts this scan into a digital ID key. Customers’ bank details are then stored with payment provider Worldpay, in the same way you can store your card details when shopping online. After taking the mainstream media by storm last week (you can read a feature here from the Telegraph, featuring a video of the technology in action), we were keen to see the technology in action at Restaurant Tech Live. And it really didn’t disappoint – with the entire payment process taking just 3…
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retail IT solutions
  • 4 Jul 2016
RA Summer Event 2016
Last week, we celebrated our Annual Summer Event with our customers; retailers and hospitality brands that we’re proud to support with our IT services and solutions. Many thanks to those who joined us for drinks and bowling at All Star Lanes on Brick Lane! We had a great evening, and hope that you did too. Of course, a Retail Assist event wouldn’t be complete without some fun, so our bowling competition provided great entertainment, plus some top-class cocktails thanks to our dedicated mixologist! We’re pleased to announce that Pizza Hut were the overall winners of the bowling event. Congratulations! To see the whole album, head over to our Facebook page. We love hosting our annual Summer Drinks, and we’re already excited for our next client events! We have long-standing relationships with our customers, spanning up to 15 years. At Retail Assist, our customers are at the heart of what we do. The difference that we offer as a business, is that we can provide you with the whole retail and hospitality IT package. Not only can we manage the full implementation process of retail IT solutions, but we will also support your business with our Managed Services. All of this, 24×7×365, across the globe with multilingual support.…
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Project Management Services
  • 9 May 2016
Are Hospitality tie-ups the way forward in Retail?
In a market driven by consumer demand, brands are working collaboratively to create powerful customer experiences. Experience and “theatre” have long been a talking point in retail as well as hospitality due to their power to engage and encourage dwell time. In 2016 the retail non-food sector is expected to grow by 2.8% (source: ONS), representing a huge opportunity for brands to invest in improvements to their offering. One of our customers, fashion retailer Oasis, has recently been heralded as a poster-child for retail-hospitality tie-ups, when relaunching their flagship on Tottenham Court Road last year. The end result was a retail store centred on experience rather than on product, boasting an in-house cafe-cum-cocktail bar (Saucer & Spritz), and beauty salon (Pin & Polish). Aside from transmitting the brand identity through different mediums but with a unified form, what Saucer & Spritz and Pin & Polish help to achieve is turning the retail experience into one of leisure. In today’s time hungry world, customers need to be given a reason to visit the store when you can buy the product at your fingertips – physically going to the store for a different experience than that with which you are presented online. Hospitality presents reasons to return to the store that transcend the fashion product – true engagement with the brand. Hospitality offerings in retail units also promote dwell time. Want to mull over that high ticket item purchase, or discuss it with a friend? Instead of turning the customer back out onto the street or shopping centre, with no space in which to make this decision, promoting that the customer stays within the store presents more opportunity to sell stock at full price. From Costa in Next, to Starbucks in Selfridges, what both sectors service is a consumer demand for great customer experience – no matter if it’s purchasing clothes or enjoying a drink. Our IT Help Desk, located at our Head Office in Nottingham, is the hub that powers customer engagement with big name brands across 8,000 global locations. Did you know how many places you visit on a day out are supported by Retail Assist’s Help Desk? On a typical day out, see how your customer experience is supported by us in different retail and hospitality outlets, with this “Big Day Out” infographic. Morning coffee, shopping, cinema, a meal out: our Help Desk has it covered 24x7x365. We play a behind-the-scenes support role for all the brands featured here and many more, to ensure that their IT systems are supported for optimum performance; enabling them to provide the best experience for their customers. Our Help Desk supports all aspects of retail and hospitality environments, from the front of house POS to the back office systems, including examples such as Oasis Tottenham Court Road mentioned above. Retail Assist’s Project Management Services and store development teams were also used during Oasis’ refit project to manage the deployment of new comms and IT systems during the store build and roll out –…
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