IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

International Retail

  • 11 Mar 2019
St Patrick’s Day: Will the Luck of the Irish Turn its Hand to UK Retail?
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Executive, and Andréa Williams, Marketing Officer Saint Patrick might be the patron saint of Ireland, but his name and feast day has come to be synonymous with celebrations. However, whilst many people around the UK will take part in St Patrick’s Day events on the 17th March, in America it’s a billion dollar industry; in fact, predicted spending for 2019 is expected to exceed $5.61bn. If the UK has followed American retail trends in the past, is St Patrick’s Day set to become a key UK trading event of the future? According to NRF, 55% of Americans plan to celebrate this year, with the biggest spends unsurprisingly going on food and beverages. Yet consumers are also looking to spend their pretty green on decorations and apparel, with 77% of men and 84% of women planning to wear green on the day. Interestingly, the breakdown in this percentage indicates that 87% of 18-24 year olds and 82% of 24-34 year olds plan on wearing green, perhaps providing an unexpected link between the saint’s day and the rise of Halloween, as Gen Z and their millennial counterparts tap into the ‘dressing up’ element of the revelries. NRF’s annual St Patrick’s Day research also highlighted retailers such as Aldi who are targeting shoppers with products such as green or beer-flavoured cheese and other grocery chains embracing the holiday’s feature colour with displays of Granny Smith apples. However, it’s not just the supermarket sector. A quick google of “St Patrick’s Day Clothes” leads to some UK retailers, such as River Island, linking to a selection of their green clothes and accessories whilst other global brands are taking it one step further. Adidas recently announced their St Patrick’s Day collection: a limited edition run of their Handball Spezial trainers which has three different Irish-themed colourways and “a clover sign-off to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day”. Perhaps this is yet another example of the globalisation of retail, as certain location-specific trends start to spread to other localities. So is St Patrick’s Day a growing trend? NRF certainly thinks so. A decade ago, only half of consumers under the age of 35 planned to celebrate, whereas now it has grown to over 70 percent. And, if the rising popularity of Halloween is anything to go by, with Mintel now praising it as the third biggest retail event of the year after Christmas and Easter, it suggests that St Patrick’s Day looks set take the UK retail and hospitality sector by storm.   Retail Assist provides IT support to the retail and hospitality sector, which is crucial for peak trading periods. Want to hear how we can reduce your IT costs by 30% whilst also reducing system downtime? Click here or email…
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  • 4 Feb 2019
A Sales Drive in Five! Quick Fixes to Improve Online Conversions
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Executive With much competition from both the high street and other online retailers, making sure that customers convert their sale from browsing to placing an order is imperative. Whilst encouraging online conversion rates can involve complex business changes, there are many simple things a retailer can do to achieve better results. Get down to basics It may seem obvious, but a good place to start involves looking at the bones of the process. In the case of improving online conversions, the first thing to look at should be ensuring that websites are easily accessible and functioning: without this in place, it can be difficult to achieve success. The best way to check this is to act like a customer, emulating a purchasing user journey. Having a website that loads rapidly, features working links and that has an error-free payment cart is essential. As well as making sure that all the customer-facing aspects are in shape, attention should also be paid to whether the ‘behind the scenes’ basics work effectively. Errors such as the failure of notifications of orders to relevant store staff can get in the way of fulfilment times, have a negative reaction on customer experience and hence impact on future online conversions and sales. Employing an efficient store stock management tool is vital for the smooth transition from online orders to bricks-and-mortar, making the method for stock delivered from store being sent out to the customer as effortless as possible for both staff and consumer. Look at targeting behaviour Understanding and knowing the customer is vital for any business, but going one step further and being able to target certain aspects of their behaviour can have a huge impact on online conversions. Tracking geographical trends and habits can have big results; what sells well in one area may not be selling as well in another and, if recognised, this can be responded to and used to encourage transaction levels via specific targeting of product types. Using a WSSI provides weekly sales and stock analysis and is crucial to understanding patterns; retailers who use this knowledge can arrange their stock for a more efficient online process. Embrace the personal Offering good customer service isn’t just for bricks-and-mortar, but has an important place to play in online conversions. A good way of doing this is for retailers to offer personal touches that make the consumer feel included and valued. Options such as the ability to enter into live chats with a staff member, where they can ask a question about a product and quickly get an answer, can quicken the speed a customer may purchase something, as well as capitalising on any ‘impulse’ urges. Consider Unique Value Propositions As well as ensuring that personal touches and attention are offered to foster inclusivity and loyalty, making sure that any Unique Value Propositions (UVPs) in place are as tempting as possible, as well as adding new ones, can be a big part of encouraging online conversions. UVPs…
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Rebound Returns
  • 22 Oct 2018
Return to sender: why ReBOUND Returns are leading the revolution
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Executive at Retail Assist It’s Thursday lunchtime: you’ve got a huge event on Friday night and you desperately need something to wear. Looking through your shopping apps, you panic buy ten things with Next Day Delivery in the hope that something might fit the bill. It all arrives in time, but alas – nothing works: it’s either too big, too small or just doesn’t suit you. So you pack everything back up, fill out your returns note, drop it off at the Post Office or local shop accepting returns and wait for your refund to come through. It’s by no means a new concept to buy things online: in fact, one in every £5 spent in UK shops is now online (source: Telegraph). However, with more and more of us shopping from the comfort of our sofas, brands are having to catch up. With returns proving to be a costly service to run, it’s something that is taking up more and more of a retailer’s resources. We recently attended and part sponsored the Returns Revolution Conference, hosted by ReBOUND Returns. Held at The Skyloft at the Millbank Tower, London, ReBOUND Returns invited key retailers and industry experts to discuss the issues facing returns and how retailers can plan efficiently. We wanted to share with you some of the industry insights that were highlighted during the course of the day. To start the day, we heard from ASOS. Although many businesses outsource their returns process, ASOS have a dedicated returns team, and, because of this, feel able to make more informed decisions through data gathering, which allows them to predict and forecast return rate patterns – a clear advantage to any retailer. The thinking was that it will be the returns process, rather than any other factor, that will soon distinguish brands from their competition across the marketplace. With this in mind, it was fantastic to hear how our shared client, ASOS, uses returns to their benefit. Alistair Sercombe, Returns Programme Manager at N Brown Group (owners of fashion brands such as Simply Be and Jacamo, amongst others) revealed that returns are roughly costing retailers a huge £20 billion annually. He highlighted the need for retailers to work with different partners to avoid these costs and to build an integrated returns chain. Neil Kuschel, CEO Europe at e-commerce technology company, Global-e, presented his thoughts on ‘Cracking International Markets’, highlighting the need for a strong and dependable returns service, concluding that ‘returns is about creating a lifetime value with a customer’. If a retailer has a great returns process, in addition to the positive buying experience, that customer is much more likely to buy with that retailer again and again. Whilst we may be thinking of our UK returns process improvements, the day certainly highlighted the difference in returns globally, particularly those cited in Japan and Taiwan. We heard from Royale who shared insights with us which suggested that whilst online shopping is growing, the returns policies…
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international help desk support
  • 8 Aug 2016
International Help Desk Support
Who’s looking after your IT systems overseas? Wouldn’t it be great to have the peace of mind that everything is looked after, 24 x 7. Commerce stops for nobody. If no one’s ensuring maximum uptime of your IT systems, you could be risking lost sales, and a negative customer experience. Our international Help Desk support enables you to trade without disruption or downtime. Cover is as much or as little as required: if you wish to boost support during seasonal periods of peak trading, add multilingual support for your international stores, or outsource resource outside of the traditional 9-5 remit, we’re here to help deliver your exact requirements. Pizza Hut Restaurants, Best Food Logistics, Karen Millen and World Duty Free Group are just some of the brands we support, who are reaping the benefits of reduced disruption to service. If you have a global store estate, or international expansion is on the horizon, having a globally minded service desk may be critical for your growing IT and technology infrastructure. When outsourcing your IT support to Retail Assist, not only will you benefit from a shared service model, but also a fixed fee; our cost-effective approach means that you are not charged per incident. For example, last year, though the number of stores we support increased by 8%, the number of incidents our customers experienced fell by 10%. With international expansion across nine territories and the acquisition of 4 cinema groups, Vue Cinemas came to us in 2009 for IT support services to support their rapidly expanding cinema estate and IT infrastructure. With increased business reliance on IT, Vue identified a critical need for a more streamlined support services network: one service desk to own all calls, and one number for staff to call. Retail Assist’s IT Help Desk will be on the other end of the phone to efficiently resolve any IT or systems issues that disrupt trading; whatever the time, whatever the location. 40% of our expert team is bilingual, ensuring better relationships with store teams on the ground across the globe. Our international Help Desk support provides 24×7 IT support through a single point of contact to over 30 customers in a wide range of business sectors. In this way, we enable brands to provide the best experience for their customers, maximising sales whilst minimising disruption. There’s a big market to engage, so ensure you’re supported to position your brand in the best possible way!    …
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  • 24 May 2016
How to overcome the challenges of international retailing?
In an omnichannel retail world, brands are experiencing a demand to break local borders, interacting with and selling to customers around the world, anytime, anywhere. When you open stores overseas, be it solus, a concession or franchise operation, you might face challenges translating sales data back to your central database in real time, and in a 100% accurate manner. We can help you to break new markets with low risk, at low cost: Ra-X, Retail Assist Exchange, is our global data exchange solution developed for international retailing. Ra-X is a 24×7 monitored solution, ensuring that your sales data comprises the entirety of your estate. Case Study A few years ago our customer, Cath Kidston, wanted to open shop in Asia, still one of their biggest markets. If Cath Kidston makes a sale in one of their Japanese concession stores, Ra-X translates the sale, product and price data, and exchanges the information automatically, back into the standard format. This all happens in the cloud, meaning there’s no costly hardware required to set Ra-X up, and no need for maintenance of in-house systems. The sales information from Cath Kidston’s partners is then fed back in a standardised format, meaning data for global sales is 100% accurate – a critical requirement for profitable global retailing. Ra-X is allowing retailers to break new markets overseas, and develop concession and franchise presence, thanks to its reliability, dependability, and resilience. Want to know more about our solutions? Check out the following webpage: , or email your query to     What else to consider when expanding internationally? Retailers need to understand how much consumers are willing to pay for each product, in order to stay competitive in local markets. Our zonal pricing model removes manual processes, effortlessly dealing with different currencies. Multi price zones are auto maintained and synced using a zonal conversion factor. Understanding where consumers are buying and how much they are willing to spend is equally important. For instance, online retail sales are highest in the UK, China, Finland, Norway, South Korea, and Denmark; and are estimated to lead sales into 2018. [Source: eMarketer] International partners should also be a consideration when thinking about concession and franchise expansion. We work with over 60 partners, including Alshaya, El Cortes Ingles, Karstadt, Bloomingdales and more.   Check out our weekly blogs for more retail, hospitality and technology insights. Or contact us here if you’d like to speak about any of the solutions we provide above.…
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retail IT solutions
  • 7 Sep 2015
The Future of Retail: as seen in Porto
Retail Assist’s Executive Chairman, Alan Morris, and Strategic Partnerships Director, Gary Broughton, have recently returned from an interesting and informative business trip to Porto, Portugal. Our hosts, and great business partners, Inovretail, gave us an invaluable insight into their latest innovations in retail technology. Today’s blog will round up some of the cutting-edge retail technology solutions explored in Porto, as well as some of the city’s interesting retail attractions. Inovretail’s focus areas are customer experience, store efficiency and predictive retail. A thought-provoking concept we brought back to the UK was the important role of reactive analytics in enabling predictive retail for retailers. In-store analytics With online shopping becoming ever more popular, and physical retail space a highly valuable asset, the in-store experience must be absolutely ideal to ensure better conversion rates for retailers. Inovretail’s deep understanding of the store environment is shaped by cutting edge analytics tools. Increasing customer dwell time in an optimum store environment will increase successful conversion. For example, the effect of temperature was the most influential factor in customer store dropout rates: Inovretail recorded a 40% reduction in conversion when the temperature was above 26 degrees centigrade, making the customer uncomfortable, unlikely to try items on, and even less likely to remain in-store. In-store analytics also helps a retailer to ascertain how to sell more stock at full price in-store. New customer profiling tools can plot a customer journey through the store, working out where the customer spends the most time, and the way in which they move around different departments. Why are your store staff spread out, when customers are tending to congregate on one side of the store? Why do customers favour a certain area of the store over another? These are questions that layout analytics and customer mapping can help to answer. Layout analytics can also point towards reasons for the success/failure of promotional rails. Are they in premium position? Do they work near the tills as a last-ditch attempt to appeal to the customer? Alternatively, are heavily visible discounted items jeopardising the sale of full priced stock? This helpful diagram from Inovretail is a simple way to think about this method of analytics:   Aside from learning a lot about retail tech and analytics, our Directors were given a taste of the Portuguese retail experience. A concept book store, Livaria Lello, made quite an impression. Customers pay €3 to enter, and if you make a purchase, the entry fee is refunded. Whether it was the gimmick of paying to enter, the overwhelming magic of the interior, or the fact that the store inspired J.K Rowling’s literary design of Hogwarts library (she lived and worked in Porto in the 1990s), it certainly impressed our Executive Chairman enough to spread the word and develop a buzz around the in-store experience offered. In summary, we’ll quote Hugo Lopes, Head of Product at Inovretail. This is something every retailer should bear in mind when investing in improving customer experience: “The retail store environment is a jungle,…
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  • 28 Jul 2014
A Click Away from International Expansion
Cross border online trade is growing fast, currently estimated to be worth over $100bn annually, and this figure is set to triple by 2018. IMRG predicts that by 2020 cross border sales will soar to a third of all online trade worldwide, and despite the current economic situation the European online market continues to go from strength to strength. International retail allows retailers to open themselves up to new territories and further profit. But what are the challenges faced when thinking about expanding internationally and how can you combat them? Understanding local shopping culture is a massive factor in planning an international move as it is crucial to get a gauge on how the market is developing and how to accurately target it. Understanding new market culture allows not only smoother transition between channels but also contributes to the delivery of a more personalised shopping experience, as this is something which is expected world-wide. However this adds additional complications in to the already intricate transition of international retailing, with differing time zones, currencies, weather and changing seasons to take in to account. The internet plays an important role in branching out overseas, offering a diverse cross channel experience. Brands need to be able to mould themselves and adapt to ever changing and increasing customer demands, from making collection and delivery more convenient, offering multiple language options and providing the digital experience in bricks and mortar stores, just to name a few. Retailers who have the ability to support customers who shop anytime, anywhere and on any device internationally are in a good position to take a share of the international rewards on offer. UK retailers have been quick to embrace the international opportunity with online exports projected to increase by 26% year-on-year; whilst retail exports are presently growing at 9%. Research from Google and OC&C Strategy Consultants suggests that Britain is the world’s most successful cross-border internet trader. The most successful UK companies that trade internationally often establish themselves in the UK, expanding to English speaking countries and then moving outwards to European and word-wide markets, where they have to tackle differing currencies, languages and times-zones. Omnichannel retailing helps retailers pursue new and untapped opportunities in foreign markets, growing their business and capturing new sales. With the growth in technology and number of devices that allow consumers access to the internet, geographical barriers are reduced, opening up new markets to both retailers and consumers. Cross border shoppers form part of a very attractive demographic as they are well-educated and experienced online shoppers with a high disposable income who tend to outspend domestic shoppers across a number of categories, found Forrester. Retailers need to embrace omnichannel to join up their international sales channels providing a seamless experience for increasingly nimble cross-channel consumers. We can help with the challenges faced when undertaking international expansion and have recently seen our Ra-X customer, Cath Kidston, open their 100th international store. Ra-X manages the two-way global data exchange between Cath Kidston’s Head Office and overseas…
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  • 14 Oct 2013
International Shopping Trends
Working within retail on an international basis, and adapting to all of the different traditions within retail worldwide, is both challenging and extremely interesting. We are proud to support retailers all over the globe, and to have the capability to answer a number of our calls in the enquirer’s native language. With the internet came the chance to expand our knowledge and our client base, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. As a fun way to share a list of our language capabilities, we’ve put together a short list of retail fun facts from the capital city of each of the native countries of the languages we support. Feel free to add your own shopping knowledge, tips and traditions in the comments below, or by tweeting us @RetailAssist We speak Italian. In Rome, designer bargains and fashion outlets are commonplace, especially to the west of Piazza Navona and Campo de’ Fiori. Huge sales are usually held in January and July. We speak Polish. In Warsaw, the best gifts to take home are amber, vodka and lard, according to We speak French. In Paris, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées – with its designer shopping, cafes and art – is the place to be. It’s a great place to spend New Years Eve, too. We speak Spanish. In Madrid, shops are open from 10am-10pm, with a mix of everything from international brands to local boutiques, selling shoes, food, wine, souvenirs, and just about anything else you can think of. We speak Portuguese. In Lisbon, shopping is also a cultural experience, especially when visiting historic stores, according to Lisbon is Western Europe’s least expensive capital, so is a great place to bag a bargain. We speak Mandarin. In Beijing, bargaining is the norm, and the phrase “Tai gui le” (too expensive) is one to learn before trying to shop. We speak German. In Berlin, there is a mix of everything. You’ll find department stores, shopping malls designer shops, small handcraft manufacturers, flea and antique markets and bargain stores, all in one city. We speak Hungarian. In Budapest, some of the most popular folklore products to take home are embroidered cloths, pillowcases and dolls dressed in Hungarian folklore costumes, according to We also speak English, and have a team of highly trained retail specialists based in the UK. To find out more, visit our website.…
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