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is Amazon Go the future of bricks-and-mortar stores?
  • 15 Oct

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

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

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

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

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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  • 27 Feb

The Proof is in the Pud: A Day with Fran Bishop

Such a brilliant day with @RetailAssist & my team! Thank you so much @rhiannejpoole & @KtBoo_ for helping us in getting the site ready! pic.twitter.com/F5iA1WNttc — Frances Bishop (@franbishop_) February 20, 2017 A Day in the Life: Our Marketing team spend a day as store assistants with an independent childrenswear retailer. The Pud Store first caught our eye back in 2014, and from then on we’ve been strong supporters of its growth. From regional town stores to social media dominance, and a hotly anticipated ecommerce launch, the independent childrenswear retailer is going from strength to strength. The brand was founded by Fran Bishop, finalist on The Apprentice 2016, and if her dynamic and resilient personality was anything to go by, her ambitions for Pud are in very capable hands. Retail Assist’s Marketing team spent a day at The Pud Store in Newark, getting to grips with the workings of independent retail with Fran and her team. Customer Experience is key It’s an over-used phrase, but couldn’t be more appropriate for The Pud Store. Fran knows her customers inside and out – from the names of the people coming into her store, to their likes and dislikes – from using both her physical and social media presence. Arriving for our first morning at Pud, we find Fran speaking to her smartphone, videoing the “Deals of the Day” to be broadcast straight to her Facebook group of nearly 9000 customers. For the shoppers who prefer to buy from their mobile, Fran understands that having a store presence is not the be all and end all:  Pud makes approximately £1,200 every day just from its Facebook page. And it’s this that allows her to uphold a high street presence in Newark and Doncaster. The popularity of Fran’s daily videos, featuring her latest lines, competitions, offers, even just daily Mum observations, is something that all retailers can learn from. The videos generate interest not just in the products, but in the Pud brand itself and the fun, inclusive culture that Fran leads. It’s almost like an interactive click and collect – there’s even plans to integrate a packing area within the Newark store just to service the overwhelming demand of online orders – and it’s only set to get bigger with Pud’s ecommerce launch. Product lines are being added as we speak. However, adopting a multichannel approach to retailing, the Pud Store also prides itself on its child friendly store environments. We really enjoyed visual merchandising the store whilst the Pud team worked on fulfilling their Facebook orders and kickstarting the website. It showed that with a growing brand, the more hands on deck to focus on each element, the better the customer experience. The day is perhaps best summed up by Fran on Twitter. Thank you for having us! Things I’ve learnt today: 1) Big businesses can learn off small ones and visa versa 2) A little bit of help goes a very, very long way — Frances Bishop (@franbishop_) February 20, 2017…
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retail IT solutions
  • 4 Jul

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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  • 21 Mar

The Great Retail Assist Bake Off 2016

For Sport Relief, we enjoyed fundraising across all of our Retail Assist sites on Friday with a company wide Bake Off! Charitable giving is important to our business, and the Bake Off was a great way to get together in aid of a fantastic cause. We’re proud to have raised over £500! The Star Baker was crowned at our Paul St London office: congratulations to Sarb Singh, our Desktop Support Manager, for his Falling Malteaser Masterpiece! Check out the bakes below:…
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Mother's Day Gift Guide
  • 2 Mar

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Have you bought your Mum a gift yet? If the answer is no, don’t panic. We visited some of our customers on the High Street to create a  Mother’s Day video gift guide for you. We’ve got all types of Mums covered in our gift guide: the fashionistas, the handbag lovers, the list makers and the ones who insist a card is just enough. Take a look at our gift guide here and if you see something you like, we have listed all the links to each product underneath the video. Mint Velvet Ombre Wrap Blouse, Mint Velvet Abstract Print Scarf, Karen Millen Glitter Box Clutch, Karen Millen Printed Clutch, Paperchase’s Entire Mother’s Day Collection. Our customers always provide great gifts for Mother’s Day. Did you know that if you make a purchase at Cath Kidston before Mother’s Day, you’ll get a lovely free card? Now that’s a job made quick and easy! Cath Kidston are also hosting a series of ‘Mother’s Day Makes’. Join them in-store to create some lovely Mother’s Day gifts. You can also use their blog guides to create home-made gifts if you’re a bit strapped for cash. What gifts do you think your Mum will like best from our gift guide? How are you celebrating Mother’s Day this Sunday? Post your comments in the box below, we’d love to hear from you!…
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retail IT support
  • 30 Oct

Halloween 2015: will retailers be spooked by demand?

With recent estimates stating UK Halloween sales are expected to reach £460 million for retailers this year, seasonality is evidently still a big win for retail brands. Pumpkins, witch hats, trick or treat provisions: no doubt you’ll have had a panic dash to your nearest shop to purchase one/all of the above this week. We wanted to find out more about consumers’ purchasing habits and general plans for the Halloween period, so in true Retail Assist style, we’ve conducted a survey and produced an infographic of our spooky findings: Where will consumers be shopping? Supermarkets took an overwhelming majority when it comes to Halloween purchasing habits; keeping their title as the “go-to” stores for Halloween shoppers in search of costumes and treats. 67% voted for supermarkets as their preferred place to shop Halloween items, over the 33% of people choosing fashion retailers. Retail Week’s recent survey also noted that supermarkets came out on top last year, with 38.3% of costume purchases made at a supermarket in 2014. Sadly for independents, nearly three quarters of people source their pumpkins from a supermarket, rather than from a traditional pumpkin patch. What will consumers be doing? Our survey shows that most people plan to watch a scary film this Halloween, which is great news for our customer Vue Cinemas! Are you brave enough to watch the new Paranormal Activity instalment? 53% will be sitting down to a scary film, whilst 28% will be attending costume parties, and 19% having a night out. The hospitality industry will definitely experience a burst of activity this weekend. So, what will people be watching behind their cushions tomorrow evening? Hocus Pocus stormed ahead, taking 34% of the votes as people’s favourite Halloween film. This proves that classic cult films retain popularity: perhaps we could do with a new Halloween classic to be released! To find out more about our work with Vue, just visit their dedicated page here. For more information about how our Help Desk supports their cinema estate, you can also request a case study. With busy trading expected, our Help Desk teams are gearing up to support our customers from day to night, with a smile, 24 x 7. Have a Happy Halloween, from all at RA! Pumpkin credits to our Contracts Manager, Rumyana Topliyska!    …
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