IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

Just for fun

  • 30 Dec 2019
What a Year! Here’s Our Round-Up of 2019’s Best Bits
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Lead, and Andréa Williams, Marketing Officer 2019 has certainly not been without its events: a general election, Brexit (almost!), the first sub two-hour marathon, another royal baby and England nearly winning another rugby world cup have all captured just some of the headlines this year. So, as we all reach the end of this year – and this decade – it gives us a chance to reflect on the year we’ve also had and a few of our own headlines. Thank you for all of your support over the last year. From us all here at Retail Assist, we’d like to wish you all a wonderful, successful and prosperous 2020. Happy new year! January We kicked off the year by attending the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Big Show. Held in New York City, Alex Broxson, Head of Marketing, and Anna Murphy, Communications Lead, represented Retail Assist at the show, vlogging live from the show floor. Read their blogs from Day 1 and Day 2, and also to watch their videos from Day 1 and Day 2.   February In February, we were very excited to welcome Smythson to our growing list of customers. Read more about how we support Smythson here.   March March held some very exciting news for us as we won ‘Best Service Desk CX (Customer Experience’ and were finalists for ‘Best Managed Service Provider 2019’ at the IT Service & Support Awards, hosted by SDI. Click here to read our overview of the evening and for a few more photos, including our Greatest Showman-inspired finalist video!   April This month saw the launch of our video mini-series, talking to smaller retailers and seeing how they approach providing the best customer experience, including 200 Degrees, Bird & Blend Tea Co. and Doughnotts.   May In May, we visited RBTE to network, walk the show floor and to record our highlights from the show. But that wasn’t all… we also won the ‘Sales and Marketing 2019’ award at the Nottingham Post Business Awards!   June On 16th June 2019, we turned 20! With celebrations both in our offices and also at our client drinks event in London, we welcomed in our next decade. Read our round-up here.   July At Retail Assist, we pride ourselves with the positive relationships that we build with our customers and we were thrilled to announce the contract extension with our customer, Hobbycraft.   August Over the summer, we enjoyed having YouTube blogger, Lydia Violeta, as a welcome addition to our marketing team. As a placement student, she produced videos for us, including ‘A Day in the Life’ as an insight into what it’s like to work in our Nottingham head office and Help Desk.   September In September, we attended the E-Commerce Expo, held at London’s Olympia. We also enjoyed a guest blog from Nelson Blackley, Retail Research Associate at the Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University, and published our latest Gen Z research.   October Even more awards success! This time it was the turn…
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Retail Assist Client Drinks
  • 2 Dec 2019
We’ll drink to that! Celebrating Another Successful Year at Our Client Drinks Event
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Lead It might only seem like a few weeks has passed since our summer birthday drinks event, but it was time to party again! Held at the new Simmons bar on Oxford Street, we were right in the heart of London’s infamous shopping district. With our customers and partners all gathered, we saw out the year with some festive cheer. A huge thank you to everyone who attended – we had a brilliant time and it was lovely to see so many familiar faces, and to meet some new ones, too. Did you attend? Scroll down to see our photos of the night.…
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Retail Assist Summer Drinks 2019
  • 24 Jun 2019
It’s Party Time!
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Executive There’s nothing like a birthday to give you a good excuse for a party, so on Wednesday 19th June 2019, we held our annual summer drinks event. Attended by our clients and partners, both old and new, we loved catching up with everyone whilst taking in the capital’s skyline views at the B&H Garden Room in London’s Leicester Square. And with the three Cs of fundamental birthday ingredients – cake, champagne and canapes – we all revelled as we welcomed Retail Assist into its next decade. Here’s a selection of our photos from the evening. A huge thank you to everyone who attended and helped us to celebrate!…
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  • 18 Mar 2019
“I’m very lucky to work with such fab people!” We talk to our new Learning and Development Manager, Charlotte Lappin
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Executive Tell us a bit about your background. My degree is actually in theatre but it’s perfect for learning and development! The course was involved in all aspects, but I especially enjoyed directing. There are many parts of being a director that apply to my current role at Retail Assist, as it requires you to make plans and bring people from different departments together. After university and a short stint as a Mad Scientist children’s educational entertainer, I worked at a call centre: first as a Dedicated Operator and then as Training Quality Co-Ordinator. After here, I moved to the University of Nottingham where I worked at the students’ union, liaising with both staff and students. Although I loved my time there, I craved a new challenge and wanted more development. When I saw the role at Retail Assist, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to knit together various parts of my skillset and experience. What does your role as Learning and Development Manager entail? My role is brand new and constantly evolving. Whilst it’s currently focused on training and developing colleagues on the Help Desk, it’s moving to broader aspects of the company. I’m naturally a people helper and I’m excited to look at the opportunities to develop our people in a wider sense. What does your average day look like? It’s safe to say that there is no average day! I love the variety of my role; it can range from delivering coaching sessions for our Client Lead Analysts, to creating different training programmes for internal teams, to developing our apprenticeship scheme. I’ve also got some exciting plans for some new company-wide initiatives. Watch this space! What’s your approach to learning and development? I believe that working should be collaborative, inclusive and empowering. This is the focal point of how I work and I keep those elements at the heart of everything I do. With that, I also believe in bringing together experts to ensure we have the right content in the right way. What’s the favourite thing about your job? I’d always wanted to lead my own team; the opportunity to develop my own people and to build those relationships was something I was looking for in a new role, so I’m delighted to have this here at Retail Assist. I know I’m biased, but my team are amazing – I’m very lucky to work with such fab people! What do you enjoy most about working at Retail Assist? I’ve always been a people person and in every job I’ve ever had, the thing I’ve enjoyed most has been the colleagues I’ve worked with. It’s safe to say that this is the same at Retail Assist! I love working with people who have a positive focus and I feel like we’ve already learnt so much from each other. It’s a really great team environment and it’s a lovely atmosphere to work in. I’ve also been impressed with how much internal…
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National Apprenticeship Week 2019
  • 4 Mar 2019
You’re hired! Retail Assist Celebrates National Apprenticeship Week 2019
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Executive Lord Sugar might be famous for saying “You’re fired!” in order to find his perfect apprentice, however at Retail Assist, we take pride in nurturing ours. This week (4th – 8th March) is National Apprenticeship Week 2019; here, we explain about our scheme and celebrate the hard work of all of our apprentices. Retail Assist is fortunate to have six brilliant apprentices who are currently working as Apprentice Call Analysts on our award-winning Help Desk. They receive full training, internally and externally, to work as part of a team to deliver the highest standard of support for our prestigious global client base from across the retail and hospitality sectors. Rae Hayward, Head of People, says: “Our apprenticeship scheme is the perfect opportunity for school and college leavers to develop their skills whilst also gaining a qualification in customer service. “As part of the scheme, our apprentices get time in the office to combine and develop their work experiences with essay-based learning. With their work and drive, we can help to shape and develop our apprentices into the ideal Retail Assist Call Analyst.” James Jeffs, Apprentice Call Analyst agrees: “The apprenticeship at Retail Assist appealed to me because it meant I was earning whilst learning, whilst also gaining experience working within an award-winning company.” But it’s not just the apprentices that stand to gain from their time with us – the feeling is very much mutual. Rae explains: “With Retail Assist’s on-going growth and progress, it’s also a fantastic prospect for us to welcome younger people with varied life experiences and backgrounds to join our diverse and dynamic team. Our apprentices are all really enthusiastic and keen, and we have enjoyed seeing them thrive within our work environment.” Callum Kitson, Apprentice Call Analyst, feels that he has benefitted from this experience of a working environment. He says: “I enjoy working alongside great colleagues and I also like that we support well-known clients. The apprenticeship scheme has helped me to gain new skills; I have learnt how to speak to customers confidently over the phone and I’ve also learnt how to work well in an office environment, which is something that will help me with my future career options.” So, if people are interested in joining, what should they know? Rae says: “Having apprentices gives us an opportunity to welcome applications from our local community whilst also giving another option to school and college leavers. We’re not looking for any specific qualifications, but we are looking for applicants to be able to use a computer, show common sense, the ability to be a team player and the willingness to succeed.” Finally, what advice would Callum give to anyone thinking about joining the scheme? “It’s definitely a good route,” says Callum. “Progress within a company as you learn and earn money whilst you’re learning – who wouldn’t want that?” For more information and to apply for the scheme, click here to visit the government’s apprenticeship website or…
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is Amazon Go the future of bricks-and-mortar stores?
  • 15 Oct 2018
No cash, no queues, no worries – is Amazon Go the future of bricks-and-mortar stores?
By Anna Murphy, Communications Executive You’re in the supermarket. You see the person in front of you pick up a loaf of bread and put it in their handbag. Next, they reach for an apple and put it in their pocket. By the time you’ve walked down to the next aisle, they’ve squirreled away more than ten items, yet they’re not carrying a shopping basket. After this, you see them walk out of the shop without paying. Are they shoplifting? Or are they buying their groceries from an Amazon Go store? For customers just popping in to get a few food or household items on their lunchbreak, supermarkets can be a laborious task. Queueing for checkouts, even though a customer might only have a couple of things in their basket, can be time-consuming. Amazon Go promises a stress-free store experience, removing the need for queues, tills or even cash and physical card payments altogether. The Amazon Go store in Chicago How does it work? Before entering, a customer simply downloads the free Amazon Go app on their mobile phone, which is linked to their Amazon account. This is scanned in on entry. From this moment on, cameras and computer technology track the customer around the supermarket until they leave, where they walk out without anyone else checking their items or asking for payment. An itemised bill is then emailed to the customer, including details of the time spent within the store, and a payment, linked to the information on their Amazon account, is deducted. Amazon Go’s technology is similar to that of self-driving car, using a combination of machine learning, computer vision and sensors, which detect whenever an item is taken off – or put back on – a shelf. Customers must first download the Amazon Go app before they pass through the barriers Once they’ve downloaded the app, customers simply swipe their access code through the barriers to start their shopping experience Once they’ve exited the store, customers receive an itemised bill and payment is taken What can I buy at Amazon Go? Customers can purchase anything that they could also buy from their local convenience shop. Food, household cleaning products and toiletries all line the shelves, from basics to ‘Amazon Meal Kits’, where customers can get all the ingredients they need for a certain recipe, ready to be cooked at home. The range might not be considered as extensive as some of the larger supermarkets offerings, but the emphasis is more on convenience, and, specifically, speed, than variety or choice. Customers can browse from a range of various products, with cameras tracking the items that are lifted on and off the shelves Amazon Go offers a range of various food, drink, toiletries and household products Is Amazon Go the future of retail? Amazon’s new store technology is certainly exciting; indeed, the ease of walking in and walking out – without being stopped – is a clear advantage. However, that being said, when we visited one of the Chicago…
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Retail Assist's Great British Bake Off Takeover
  • 3 Oct 2018
Retail Assist’s GBBO Kitchen Takeover
Retail Assist and 200 Degrees join forces for another Great British Bake Off  We’ve seen chocolate week, bread week and biscuit week. But nothing we’ve seen so far on the Great British Bake Off can compare to Helpdesk Call Analyst Kay Thompson’s chocolate cake extravaganza. Kay, the winner of the Retail Assist Bake Off, was chosen by a panel of judges including representatives from the Nottingham Post, Nottingham-based charity Emmanuel House and coffee shop chain, 200 Degrees. Kay said: ‘When I found out that I’d won the Retail Assist Bake Off, I was so shocked. My daughter says I should go into baking but I just find it therapeutic. I like losing myself in the kitchen and chilling out for a few hours.’ After arriving at 200 Degrees’ Carrington Street store, she donned her apron and instantly got to work in their kitchen – although, impressively, without a written recipe in sight. Kay said: ‘I’ve made this cake so many times as it’s one of my grandchildren’s favourites. I know it off by heart. ‘They’ll often put an order in for cakes and cupcakes, and I love making them.’ Kay’s star bake included a Victoria sponge topped with chocolate icing, along with Malteasers, Orange Matchmakers and Minstrels. Joined by 200 Degrees’ Head Chef, Lucy Hickling, Kay built up her chocolate masterpiece over three hours in the professional kitchen, and, after chilling overnight in the fridge, it was placed on sale the next day. Lucy said: ‘The moment we saw Kay’s original cake, we knew it would sell well. People eat with their eyes and this cake looks great, as well as tasting delicious. Our chocolate treats generally sell the best, so I’m expecting this cake to do well! All the proceeds from the sale of the cake are being donated to Emmanuel House. Lauren Howatson, Marketing Manager for Emmanuel House, also popped down to view Kay’s efforts. She said: ‘We’re so grateful for all of Kay’s hard work today and also for the generous donation by 200 Degrees. We’re currently doing lots of fundraising to prepare our service in the run up to winter, which is accessed by many homeless people and vulnerable adults over winter.’ If you would like to buy a slice of Kay’s show-stopping charity cake, head down to 200 Degrees’ Carrington store. But you might want to hurry… we don’t think it’ll stick around for long! Thank you to Kay for all her hard work and also to Lucy for letting us steal the 200 Degrees kitchen!…
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Halloween, the new Christmas?
  • 1 Oct 2018
Halloween, the new Christmas?
“Halloween is now the third largest celebrated festivity.” Us typically reserved Brits tend to turn our noses up at the Americanised event that goes by the name of Halloween. We picture overly embellished yards that host giant ghoulish inflatables and overcompensating spun web garlands, all neatly encompassed by a white picket fence. It’s never really been our thing, just something to entertain the kids during October half term, right? Wrong. In 2017, UK Halloween spend was set to reach £320m with a 3.2% YoY increase, with 46% of UK adults also declaring that they’d be making Halloween purchases. In fact, Halloween is now the third largest celebrated festivity, surpassing Valentine’s Day and falling short to Christmas and Easter. You’ll have probably noticed that 31st October is a date that creeps in earlier every year; shop windows will be laden with pumpkins and aisles stacked with purple and green themed confectionery as soon as the first day of Autumn hits. Throw yourself back to 2008 and this would be extremely uncommon. So, who are these people and why are they jumping on the bewitched bandwagon? Millennials, aged 22-37: representing 26.5% of the UK market, sitting at roughly 17 million. They entered adulthood during a time of economic downturn and therefore are achieving adult life milestones (mortgage, marriage and children) at a later age than the generations preceding them. This is therefore a generation that are getting to stay younger for longer, and are more inclined to partake in events that resonate with their childhood. Halloween therefore, typically a ‘holiday’ for children to enjoy dress-up and sweets, is parallel with the millennial hunger to throw out all responsibility while they still can. What does this mean for retailers? This offers a multitude of opportunity for retailers, as millennials are such a large yet unique demographic, rich with heterogeneous traits and habits. One of these traits is the infatuation with customer experience. Over 50% of millennials value experience over physical products and 2 in 3 millennials seek innovation when it comes to the in-store experience. Therefore, an immersive experience is vital to attract a generation of promiscuous shoppers and, because of this, retailers need to woo them to win them. Targeting Millennials with Halloween promotion is an opportunity for retailers to vary the customer experience through innovation to create brand affinity, which is a vital consideration in the lead up to the ultimate peak trading period, Christmas. And with spending forecast set to increase YoY, Halloween is a bandwagon that retailers must jump on – or prepare themselves for their own retail fright. Written by Andrea Williams, Marketing Officer at Retail Assist.…
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  • 23 Jul 2018
Love Island – “I’m (Brand) Loyal”
The Brands Behind Love Island It’s 8.59pm on a Monday evening. You hear the famous jingle… You run down the stairs in excitement. Your phone won’t stop buzzing, the group chat is going off! You settle down as Iain Stirling narrates to you the events of the night before. Parents, husbands and maybe even the dog will complain of your ritual, but by the end of the 8 weeks, they’ve slipped into the same routine with secret enjoyment. It’s Love Island. The craze that floods our social media channels and steers office gossip the next morning. If you haven’t watched it, you’ve definitely heard of it – let’s be honest, you had to find something else to grumble about now the World Cup is over. However, not only has this year’s Love Island taught us a lot about loyalty, it’s also enriched us with an outlook on purchase habits, particularly in the Gen Z and Millennial demographic. Sponsors of the programme include Superdrug and Missguided amongst others, and since partnering, both have seen immense financial and brand success. Superdrug saw a jump in its pre-tax profit by 16% to £92.9m last year and increased its market share to 32% in the cosmetics market. It attributed the steady financial figures to marketing campaigns such as its sponsorship of Love Island, by kitting out the islanders and hosting the ad breaks. Figures disclosing brand success at Superdrug as a direct result of sponsoring last year’s Love Island. Source: ITV Media Online fashion giant Missguided, however, has taken its sponsorship a step further. Missguided sales have reportedly spiked 40% in the evening, when the show airs, and this is down to more than just successful sponsorship. Missguided has provided clothing for Islanders on the show, giving new meaning to “buy the look”, rather than this just being a website option. Watchers of the show can see for themselves how the clothing looks, as Islanders are effectively modelling and promoting its clothing line. Targeting: The show captures a 56% share of the 16-34 demographic, targeted at females who watch TV during peak hours. This naturally aligns with Missguided who creates celebrity inspired high street fashion for females aged 16-30. Therefore, the context is already set, and Missguided fit perfectly as a sponsor, rather than brands like Lucozade and Rimmel who have had to alter their branding to force a fit. In essence, this gives Missguided direct access to their core customers 6 nights a week for 8 weeks, giving them compelling frequency and depth of engagement like no other! Product Placement: It’s also worth noting that this digital native demographic of Gen Z-ers and Millennials is highly influenced when it comes to purchasing – so the fact that Missguided is supplying the islanders with clothes, as well as appearing in most, if not all ad breaks, only enhances brand engagement and likelihood of purchase. Missguided has established its product placement further by making the clothes easily accessible, by posting natural screenshots of the islanders…
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London Fashion Week Festival
  • 26 Feb 2018
London Fashion Week Festival 2018
London Fashion Week Festival Guest blog from Andrea Williams, Retail Assist’s Marketing Officer for 2018-19. London Fashion Week Festival The weekend of London Fashion Week Festival celebrates London’s fashion scene as one of the most diverse and creative showcases in the world. It is no surprise that London is now considered the ‘melting pot’ for culture as the event oozed designer chic and own label edginess from all corners of the globe. Although, however multifarious the festival, it was hard to turn a corner without sighting an exclusively designed Markus Lupfer tote and a flute of Pommery. Fashion Royalty A day of strolling through the designer pop ups and browsing apparel at some very tasty insider prices really is an ideal Saturday afternoon, and although we were five days late of a royal sighting, we were lucky enough to encounter Made In Chelsea royalty Millie Mackintosh and Rosie Fortescue as they displayed their brands in the galleries. The Trend Show There was an extensive programme of talks over the weekend that included bloggers Lucy Williams and Deliciously Ella, as well as designer Orla Kiely and fashion expert Trinny Woodall. The main event of the day was the Trend Show, displaying an array of inspiration for SS18 predicted by trend specialists The Future Laboratory and styled by LOVE Magazine’s Executive Fashion Director, Steve Morriss. The catwalk highlighted 3 main focuses:  Vintage vacation – consisting of tropical prints, vintage sunglasses and bold patterns New wave – emphasising strong shoulders, sharp angles and graphic reds, whites and blacks Cyber sports – composed of a neon palette and layered metallics (think Ibiza nights with a sportswear blend) Artifical Intelligence in Fashion With regards to digital marketing, the preshow explained how the use of big data is now at the forefront of influencing and determining fashion trends and as we’re all well aware, the vital use of social media in the use of identifying opportunities in the fashion industry – more crucially through Instagram. The most interesting feature underlined the growing use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the fashion industry and the introduction of a concept considered ‘predictive fashion’, where AI and automation have become a key area for brands to focus and develop through 2018. AI allows brands to nurture their target audiences through the use of personalised content in far more detail than ever before. The use of AI in social media marketing was also mentioned as brands are looking at creating digital avatars to model designs, and to decide their success and popularity prior to market release – so watch out Kendall Jenner. Click here to read our London Fashion Weekend blog from 2015.  …
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