IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

Supporting the “New Normal”: Count On Our Unwavering Support

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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Desktop Support
  • 4 Nov 2019
Desktop Support: Don’t Get Mad, Get Even (Better IT Help!)
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Lead We’ve all been there. You’ve got five minutes before an important meeting, but the printer refuses to print your notes out, your laptop seems to think that right now is the best time to reboot and everything seems to be running verrrryyyyy slowwwwlyyyyy. You could angrily hit your keyboard (Note from Editor – not advised), cursing that the universe is out to get you – or you could just ring our IT experts who specialise in desktop support to get everything back on track. via GIPHY When it comes to using technology, it can often be the difference between a good day or a terrible day. Whatever IT issues your head office teams face, no problem is too big or too small for our desktop support team, keeping your business running smoothly – and stopping people from pulling their hair out. Here’s our top three reasons why we’re the team to sort your head office headaches. #1 Get Issues Sorted ASAP When things go wrong in IT, they simply can’t wait. Getting problems rectified immediately can be the difference between a business continuing uninterrupted and things grinding to a costly (and customer-angering) halt. Not to mention the problem caused to the reputation of your business if your IT systems are not functioning effectively. Having outsourced desktop support means that someone is on hand to start problem solving straight away. Your business doesn’t need to spend time and effort trying to figure out what has gone wrong, what might have caused it and what the next step is; all that needs to happen is for you to get immediate help, when you need it. #2 Free Up Your Teams Maintaining a close eye on finances is always important and desktop support can help significantly with this. Often the IT issues that head office teams face are relatively simple and by outsourcing these problems to a third party means that your internal IT teams are freed up to focus on projects or strategy, rather than time-consuming, smaller matters. Our desktop support team work as an extension of your internal IT department, meaning that they can continue with their work, safe in the knowledge that the day-to-day tech problems are being handled swiftly and efficiently. #3 Access to Dedicated and Passionate Experts When you’re in an IT panic, it really helps to know that you’re in touch with people who are experts at what they’re doing. It’s doubly helpful when the same people have the passion and dedication needed to support whatever situation presents itself. Adrian Tillett, Desktop Support Manager at Retail Assist, explains: “Our desktop support team is a made up of highly talented individuals with a passion for a supportive team ethos and applying an excellent standard of collaboration to everything we do. We seek out opportunities to better the service for our customers and we have formed many strong relationships to help deliver service excellence to the many different clients that we support. “Retail…
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Independent IT Infrastructure
  • 23 Sep 2019
Gaining Independent IT Infrastructure: When It’s Time to Grow Up and Move Out
Written by Alex Broxson, Head of Marketing We understand that the retail climate continues to evolve and with that brings many challenges. As consumer expectations continue to grow, retailers need to keep pace with the demand and, in some cases, be the driver of that change. So how are retailers ensuring that they are in the best position to be agile, have independence and move at pace whilst still being efficient? Although we constantly hear about “the death of the high street”, this isn’t true. Rather than a revolution, the high street as we currently know it is simply going through a period of evolution. But this adjustment shouldn’t be causing mass panic: instead, it’s about adapting and seeing how retailers evolve to survive.  So, what are customers looking for from a retail brand? The answer all depends on your target market. One common feeling is true: consumers still love retail and shopping! So how do retailers add to that experience? Well, experience is the key word here: customers want an experience. They want additional experiences in stores, whether that be getting their nails and eyebrows done, such as Primark beauty boutique, or watching a film whilst in the same retail outlet as Selfridges. Additionally, perhaps it’s that the in-store technology needs to be just as efficient as the experience you get on your own device. However, whatever the experience – whether digital or physical – one thing is for sure: the overall brand experience must be consistent. So whatever the approach may be, the support which underpins a brand’s trading must be efficient and geared towards the target customer base. This to ensure that systems do not fail and provide a seamless experience, however the customer chooses to shop. Often when brands are part of a larger group, they are tied into group policies and systems which are not always focused towards that individual client base’s needs and wants. They don’t always have the agility and flexibility to change with the customer requirements. For example, can you easily turn on additional hosting space for your brand to trade effectively on Black Friday? Or are you fixed into a group policy which becomes incredibly expensive to turn up the hosting for the entire brand group, when one brand in particular could be your star performer at that particular trading moment? Brands might belong to a larger retail family but, from a customer’s perspective, consistency isn’t needed across a larger retail structure; instead, the consistency must be across that individual brand in order for customers to engage positively. We are continually creating ways and support structures to give brands their independence, agility and the flexibility to trade in the best possible way for their target market demands. Having independent and focused IT services and support is enabling our clients to achieve future growth, and drive efficiencies across their business. We have simplified their technology architecture, so they no longer require group shared services. The brands we support benefit from their own…
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Fix Your Issues, Fast! Meet Our IT Managed Services Superheroes | Retail Assist
  • 8 Jul 2019
Fix Your Issues, Fast! Meet Our IT Managed Services Superheroes
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Executive   Technology is a wonderful thing. However, it’s certainly not wonderful when your working day is disrupted due to an IT issue. Whether it’s a broken till, a laptop that’s somehow not working properly or a store returns device that is being ‘a bit funny’, you don’t want your productivity to be stalled by something out of your control. So, next time you encounter an IT issue, don’t send out the bat signal – here’s who you should call! With the help of Retail Assist, retailers can free themselves from the worries that surround technical issues and focus their attention on other aspects of their business. Meet our IT Managed Services Support superheroes… Storm: Help Desk Support Just like Storm, our Help Desk Support analysts are knowledgeable, empathetic and quick to react. Retail Assist is proud of its award-winning Help Desk team who give retailers and hospitality operators a single point of contact, meaning that our customers’ retail and hospitality brands can continue with business as usual, with minimum disruption. Our IT Help Desk Support, as well as Operations Support, functions like an extension of any business. The costs and hassle of employing staff directly is removed and a proactive approach ensures that problems are identified and adapted to in advance, as often as possible. As it is a single point of contact, confusion between suppliers is avoided and problems are managed right through to the point of resolution. Perhaps the most important aspect of the IT Help Desk Support is that it is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and in a variety of languages, meaning problems and issues don’t have to wait for standard office operating hours. Although, unlike Storm, we’re afraid that they can’t control the weather… Iron Man: Technical Services Team Intelligent, tech-savvy and creatively minded: no, we’re not talking about Tony Stark, but our Technical Services team! Alongside the IT Help Desk Support and Operations Support that Retail Assist provides, our Technical Services department are geniuses when it comes to all things technical. Server Management and Installation covers all aspects of dealing with servers, from offering advice and recommendations as to what is most suitable for a retailer, to monitoring them whilst active, as well as preventing or solving any problems. In a similar manner, the Network Management and Design services offered by Retail Assist make sure that communication lines are monitored and trouble free. This becomes especially important when viewed in the context of retail supply chains; any disruption in communication could lead to loss of revenue and customer satisfaction very swiftly. Retail Assist also handles all aspects of Wi-Fi Management, including what usage is occurring, content being shared, and how data lines are performing, making them impressive IT all-rounders that Jarvis would be proud of. Black Panther: Retail Systems Support Agile, quick, responsive and approachable, our Retail Systems Support team share a lot in common with Black Panther (although sadly not…
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  • 28 May 2019
Collaborate to Innovate! How Retail Collaborations Can Grow Your Business
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Executive Kate Moss and Topshop. Alexa Chung and M&S. Fearne Cotton and Cath Kidston. For years, celebrities have been teaming up with retailers to design their own, often limited edition, collections. Whilst the celebrity in question gets to add another string to their bow, retailers benefit from tapping into new audiences and engaging customers in a new and exciting way – often with a lot of hype. However, it’s not just celebrities that are getting in on the action. Increasingly we are seeing more and more collaborations between retailers, as brands are turning to other people with a different market share to work together to conquer the high street. How do retail collaborations encourage growth? The ultimate aim of any successful collaboration is that both parties benefit and take advantage of the market the other brings. This might come in the form of filling a gap in the market that previously existed, offering easier access to consumers or providing something strong and definitive that places both retailers far ahead of anything the competition can offer. An immediate PR boost can be felt by a retail collaboration as attention is drawn to the venture, which can also help with marketing. New contacts can be introduced, fresh and different expertise utilised, and ideas shared or implemented that were previously not possible. Doing things as part of a retail collaboration speeds up processes that may have taken a considerable amount of time. Potential new customers can be found and reached instantly, with all retailers involved in the collaboration being able to bring to the table the information they have collected over their separate trading experiences. What makes a successful retail collaboration? Like any successful collaboration, the best retail collaborations are based around shared agendas and aims. Retailers should offer goods that complement each other, but not be competitors, as well as targeting the same – or similar – audience. This means that joint audiences can be targeted and products offered together in a way that satisfies the customer and brings benefits to both retailers. In order for the collaborative process to be smooth, agreement on desired outcomes should be reached, and help brought in with the more practical and technical aspects of the collaboration, on a trading level.  Great retail collaboration examples include our customer, Oasis, collaborating with supermarket giant, Sainsbury’s, to have a store footprint within the supermarket estate. With Oasis’ fashion-forward designs, Oasis concessions have been carefully selected to be in Selly Oak and Sydenham supermarkets where Tu clothing performs particularly well. In the case of Selly Oak, its new flagship store, ‘complementary ranges (are) helping to make Sainsbury’s a fashion destination’ with Sainsbury’s clothing now accounting for £1bn of the retailer’s sales. Their partnerships allows Sainsbury’s to expand their fashion retail offering, whilst Oasis benefits from customers being able to pick up one of their dresses with the same convenience as a pint of milk. Other retail collaborations have been seen in Topshop Oxford Circus,…
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IT Managed Services - Retail Assist
  • 13 May 2019
Perk Up Your Productivity! Let our IT Managed Services increase your business’ efficiency
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Executive A lot has changed in the last twenty years. Fears of the Millennium Bug, dial-up connection and memorising phone numbers were the status quo and the concept of being on the phone AND on the internet at the same time would have been mind-boggling! However, 20 years ago, employing staff once meant a body of workers confined to one location, yet recent years have seen increasing amounts of businesses in all sectors adopt new working methods. The rise of secure Wi-Fi connection and laptop technology has meant that remote and flexible options are now commonplace and have widened talent pools to provide benefits to employers and employees alike. One working method being eagerly embraced by many retailers is that of IT Managed Services: outsourcing IT support to experts that support your company at extended reach. Retail Assist provides a number of Managed IT Services to leading retailers and hospitality operators across the globe, including the following: Help Desk Services, IT Outsourcing, Retail Systems Support, Project Management, Technical Services, Operations Support and IT Due Diligence. Here’s what your business can gain from outsourcing to our service provision. Specialist Knowledge and Expertise The biggest attraction of IT Managed Services is the ability to tap into specialised expertise and knowledge which is sector specific and may not be available within your own company. Whilst many IT experts may have a broad knowledge that covers many areas, finding those that have very specific skills and awareness of exactly what is needed in terms of the IT used in each individual industry can sometimes be challenging. Using IT Managed Services ensures that such expertise is easily accessible when required, without the time, effort or cost of recruitment, whilst also safeguarding against the threat of in-house experts leaving their current positions to go elsewhere. Cost Savings Costs are crucial to every business, no matter what the sector. IT Managed Services can help make significant cost savings, primarily by removing the associated staffing costs that hiring additional staff brings; office space may also be saved or utilised more effectively. Direct employees are able to focus on more value-adding activity, whist your outsourced teams take care of the day-to-day running of the business. Naturally, fluctuations in workload often occur in IT, so having a dedicated IT Managed Services team allows you to utilise the resource capabilities of the external team to your advantage to increase or decrease with market demands and your own teams can still focus on other important matters. Long-term and Proactive Approaches As IT lies at the centre of many businesses, having a system that operates reliably and without interruption is incredibly important. By using IT Managed Services, a proactive approach can be taken, which can allow problems to be foreseen and reacted to before they occur. Long-term strategies can be implemented, with the option for IT services to feature increased activity when needed, such as if a new project is due to launch. Expanded workloads can be reacted…
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Retail IT Outsourcing
  • 4 Jun 2018
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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