IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality


Ship from Store
  • 20 Aug 2018
Ship from Store: Streamlined Scenarios
Supporting the Omnichannel Experience Having a successful omnichannel supply chain in place is proving vital to businesses looking to embrace customer expectations, as well as for adapting to an ever-changing retail landscape. Joining up channels which work together efficiently, means retailers have been able to see advantages not only to shoppers, but to themselves too. One part of the supply chain is Ship from Store. What is Ship from Store? As the name suggests, Ship from Store brings products to customers directly from stores, rather than relying on the distribution centre. Orders are first placed online, and fed through to a sales order management system which checks and confirms availability. The items are then picked in store wherever there is stock availability, for dispatch from that location directly to the customer. Algorithms ensure that shipping occurs from the best geographic location, and that stock availability is maintained. This also involves anticipating any additional loads that may occur and maintaining real-time visibility of all stock, something that Retail Assist’s omnichannel supply chain solution, Merret, is designed to do. In what scenarios is Ship from Store important? The primary point of importance is that Ship from Store is a great way to maximise sales of full-price stock, rather than reduce items for sale. An example comes in the notion that stores in different areas may experience demand for different products. What sells highly in one location, may not in another. As a result of this, a store may be left with excess stock they are forced to discount or dispose of. Rather than do this, however, Ship from Store can be utilised to run the stock down, whilst maintaining profitability. From a customer viewpoint, Ship from Store can create a number of positive scenarios. Someone visiting a retailer that finds an item they wished to purchase out of stock in that location, has the potential to order and pay for it there and then, to be shipped from a store that does have it, directly to them. Not only is the product received and the customer satisfied, a positive view of the retailer as an effective bricks and mortar location is gained, and repeat visits rendered more likely. The ultimate customer experience! The sale is also secured, where there would be a potential for custom to be taken to a rival. The same applies to those ordering online; customers encountering ‘out of stock’ items may well move on to the next retailer that has the item in stock. Using Ship from Store reduces the chances of this ever happening, as inventories are checked across the entire chain of locations. In a similar way, there are many scenarios around returning products that Ship from Store helps with. Customers wishing to return an item they have ordered online can avoid the prospect of repackaging and posting an item back, but return it to a store convenient to them. This brings inevitable advantages in customer satisfaction, as well as promoting the store, and providing the…
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  • 18 Jun 2018
How Much Time Can You Save By Using A WMS?
As in any business, time is money in the retail sector. Saving time can mean focussing on increased sales potential, business growth, and seeing increased profits. Implementing a Warehouse Management System (WMS) can provide cost savings in a number of ways; all of which have the end result of a better running, more efficient and profitable retail operation. Managing inventory more efficiently Efficiency savings directly relate to time savings; retailers dealing with inventories that rely on rapid stockturns and quick transitions from supplier to customer need a process that is quick, dependable and slick. The benefits of taking a fast fashion approach to stock are of course that waste is minimalised, warehouse costs lowered, and overstocking reduced. The downside is that any problems in delivering the inventory can bring things to a halt and wreak havoc with customer expectations. As these issues usually centre around poor planning and large fluctuations in demand, a WMS can help by collecting and analysing trends and allowing closer control of inventory levels. Efficient picking patterns Warehouses are by nature, vast units, which are time consuming to walk around. The time that can be saved during the manual picking process can be instrumental to increasing warehouse efficiency. Second-accurate stock information held by a WMS, with real time visibility of its exact location, means that pickers should never visit a location that doesn’t have accurate stock. This saves time through items being readily available in exactly the right place, rather than a picker returning from a wasted journey with empty hands. ‘Omnichannel picking’ also offers the flexibility to pick multiple orders at once, rather than one by one, which means that a picker saves time by never visiting the same location twice. Retail Assist’s WMS even has options to begin picking items straight from the point of delivery before initial put-away, which means that stock can be sold on your shop floors on the same day. This is a huge pragmatic advantage of a WMS, especially relevant for new items or bestsellers. Improved quality A large amount of time is lost in the warehouse if products are put away without being adequately checked, which means that at the time of picking, time is wasted bringing poor quality items back to the packing table, to find that they are unsuitable for the customer order. If a WMS has an optional 2 stage intake process (checking and putaway), this offers the ability to carry out intake checking, with integrated Quality Control measures for efficient handling of stock. Better supplier relations Having good relations with suppliers can also result in time savings. A WMS can provide alerts and updates as to when suppliers will arrive, meaning that neither they nor the retailer are kept waiting. Information can be shared and time spent waiting for deliveries that may be delayed can be eliminated, increasing the efficiency of the warehouse workforce. Retail Assist’s integrated supplier management system runs throughout the intake system, allowing for better supplier monitoring. This control and capture…
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Retail Allocation
  • 21 May 2018
5 Steps to Successful Retail Allocation
Retail Allocation Systems Having sufficient stock levels is a vital component of any successful retail business, and is something rendered ever more important by changing consumer habits. Immediacy has become a dominant force in retail, and has significantly enhanced the need for stock to be available in the right place, at the right time. Using a retail allocation system is the best way to make retail allocation a more efficient process, in order to meet new and increasing demands. Allocation is the initial process of distributing stock upon delivery from the supplier, through the warehouse, and to a retailer’s various locations. 1: Implement a retail allocation system Using retail allocation systems and software helps retailers adopt new approaches to stock. Data can be gathered, interpreted and analysed from shopper behaviour and habits, in order to get a more localised and specific idea of what sells well in different locations. The process is sometimes referred to as ‘localisation analytics’ and supports effective store grading. Items that may be big sellers in a certain location may not sell nearly as well in another. Recognising and monitoring this can ensure that stock is allocated to the location it is needed most, avoiding low or overstocking. 2: Learn from your data This also provides the opportunity for retailers to encourage sales by pushing stock of a similar type, or that a certain type of shopper may favour, to certain locations. Having a system that allows this information to be analysed for future forecasting is something retailers can profit from. Not only are retailers able to react to trends, they are even able to predict them. The power of data within retail allocation is significant.   Pre-Allocation tactics 3: Pre-allocate stock The way in which a retailer deals with their pre-allocation is important to consider during initial stock intake. Pre-allocation refers to products that have been decided at the time of purchase order management, and has the advantage of reduced handling time at the distribution centre, thanks to an ‘in and out’ approach. Using a retail allocation system which recognises and flags pre-allocated stock is highly beneficial in any retail allocation strategy. This removes the need for it to be subject to a put-away process, meaning that it can make its way to retail outlets much more quickly, fulfilling customer demand faster, and increasing sales potential. As well as improving relationships with customers, who are more likely to be satisfied, smoother-running warehouse IT systems thanks to pre-allocation can also mean that suppliers are kept happier.   Manual Allocation 4: Reacting quickly to changes Manual allocation is a useful secondary process, for example if there has been a smaller number of products delivered than anticipated, and another delivery needs to be allocated soon afterward. 5: Ensuring stores have the right product Retail Assist’s retail allocation system within Merret also has the functionality to define and recognise allocation exclusions. This can be particularly useful for global retailers trading in lots of different countries: for example, do not…
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supply chain
  • 11 Dec 2017
Identifying Weaknesses In Your Supply Chain
For any retailer, having a supply chain that operates tightly and without error is the key to success. Failings in the chain can lead to time inefficiency, profit damage and ultimately the loss of customer satisfaction. The ramifications of not placing attention on the management of a strong supply chain can be severe. As a result of this, retailers are increasingly looking for ways in which to identify and eliminate any weaknesses. Look at the entire supply chain Where many retailers fall down is in the ability to look at the chain as a whole, end-to-end: from what occurs just before the point at which the product enters the supply chain, and when it leaves. A good way of examining this is via process flow mapping. This can be achieved by looking at all aspects of the product, and the various inputs and outputs encountered throughout its creation and distribution. This exercise provides valuable insight and awareness into where third party communication may be required through the need to develop dependable interfaces, as well as where supply chain efficiency may be at risk through poor stock management. Optimise efficiency: Auto Replenishment System When looking for a way to ensure that stock levels are optimised, having a robust, flexible replenishment system is the first module to consider. Forming part of an omnichannel retailing approach, an auto replenishment system, such as Merret, assists with the movement of stock between locations via user defined algorithms, which allows retailers to have dynamic control and maintain correct inventory levels. Sales performance can be tracked, whilst promotions or seasonal increments can be forecasted and stock level changes made accordingly. Removing issues around products ‘out of stock’, an auto replenishment system uses rationing, ensuring stock reaches the destination it is most needed, and intelligent substitution of continuity items.  Optimise cost control: Purchase Order Management Forming part of the omnichannel supply chain, a further benefit of Merret is its Purchase Order Management system, which allows buyers to build product ranges with financial accuracy in changing environments. Landed costs are accurately calculated automatically, with variables such as freight & duty included. As purchase orders can be set as flexible, re-raising them if a delivery is incomplete is unnecessary; the system allows for receipt of additional deliveries, should they be required. Other advantages of using Purchase Order Management include purchase order creation defaults, and multi-drop purchases orders, which allow agreements with suppliers for large amounts of product, which can then be phased into the supply chain when required. Optimise stock levels: Central Stock Pool The cornerstone of any omnichannel supply chain is a central stock pool, sitting at the heart of the chain. From a central pool, orders can be fulfilled no matter which channel due to a single, centralised view, meaning that inventory is used in the most cost efficient manner. This encompasses what is held in the warehouse, as well as in stores. As a result of this, terminal stock is reduced with less excess ordering, supply chain…
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  • 20 Nov 2017
Warehouse Management System: Efficiency Made Easy
As omnichannel customer demand continues to put unrelenting pressure on retailers, the need to look for ever-smarter modes and methods of working practices also increases. Retailers looking to remain competitive search for ways to operate faster, more efficiently and at lower costs. For those dealing with multiple warehouses and large amounts of stock, a Warehouse Management System (WMS) is a vital tool. Watch the video here. What is a Warehouse Management System? In any business which deals with a warehouse or distribution centre, accuracy and efficiency are pivotal to maintaining good customer service. To assist with this a Warehouse Management System (WMS) takes the form of an individual software application, or can come as part of an Enterprise Planning System or ERP, designed to support the many aspects of management that are needed. Stock levels, staffing, planning and stock movements all form part of the everyday operations that can be controlled. Different levels of complexity are involved, and services can be tailor-made to cater for exactly what level of management is needed, with everything from voice recognition to tracking technologies possible. What can a Warehouse Management System do? Usually of the most interest to a business in regards to a WMS are the Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) which store all aspects of data specific to the product. Elements such as the weight, size, barcodes, labels, dates and materials involved are all stored and can hence be easily monitored and data accessed. The locations of products within the warehouse can also be controlled, alongside the form of storage, the picking orders for items, as well as options such as secure locations for high-value items, and whether specific conditions are needed such as flame-proofing. Picking schedules can be created and shared between multiple site locations. A major aspect of a WMS is also its use in monitoring and assessing employee productivity rates such as the amount of items picked within a specific timeframe. Tasks can be assigned and their progress observed, and modifications to plans that may be rendered necessary by fluctuating product or order sizes can easily be managed and adapted to. How can a Warehouse Management System help a business be more cost efficient? Due to the way in which a WMS manages data, the most obvious way in which a business will see a financial benefit from its implementation is via inventory accuracy. Eliminating the huge variable that human error brings to monitoring of stock and replacing it with a WMS will bring accuracy levels up, resulting in less unwanted stock being ordered, greater throughput, and less wastage caused. As a business will always be looking for near perfect stock accuracy in order to minimise unnecessary expenditure, a WMS is a massive advantage. Order cycles can be improved in a similar manner. The ability to see warehouse stock in real-time is another big benefit, as dynamic business decisions can be made with the most up to date information. A Supplier Management System (SMS) can also be integrated and will…
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  • 14 Aug 2017
Video: Price Management
We’re excited to share with you our latest video in the Merret series, featuring our price management solution. Advanced pricing functionality has already enabled one of our customers to increase their weekly global sales by £400,000. Find out how in the video below: As ASOS’ Nick  Robertson notably said, “get your prices right and the rest follows” – this statement came after rolling out zonal pricing to improve the brand’s international performance. Zonal Pricing Global retailing often results in the requirement to introduce different pricing in different territories. Our solution manages advanced pricing across the globe in the following ways: Timed promotions When operating a promotion across different time zones, such as Black Friday, it can throw up operational challenges. How can Black Friday “begin” at the same time in all countries? Merret’s global infrastructure can set up time zones to trigger promotional offers in the correct timeslot. As shown in the video, a Black Friday 16:00pm start in the UK will be offset to ensure the US also experiences a 16:00pm start. Exchange and Price Point tables Retailers might not always want to use exchange rates to calculate international prices, due to their volatility. Merret has therefore been developed to operate with static international prices in a ‘Price Point’ table, which could mean that £50 always equates to €60 or $70, regardless of any fluctuations in exchange rate. The retailer can manually set price points. Over 20 leading global retail brands are benefiting from our award-winning solution, which is responsible for managing advanced pricing strategies across the globe, in order to maximise profitability, and ensure a consistent customer experience no matter which country you’re shopping in. If you want to see how Merret’s pricing functionality supports omnichannel retailing, check out our dedicated video here.   For more retail technology insights, download our new whitepaper – What is Omnichannel Retailing? – available as a free PDF.  …
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  • 7 Aug 2017
Latest Omnichannel Whitepaper
If you’re looking for the latest insights into omnichannel retailing, including trends, stats, innovative approaches, and best practice, download our latest whitepaper here: “what is omnichannel retailing?” In a free PDF, we’re providing information to retail decision-makers on all things omnichannel. As retail industry experts, our intimate knowledge of omnichannel is benefiting 20 retail brands using our supply chain solution, Merret. Read how Harvey Nichols and Morrisons are benefiting after recent upgrade projects. Real time stock availability and stock accuracy are some of the biggest benefits cited by our users. DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE PDF NOW In a feature-length download, we expand on the need for a single stock pool, why retailers should be using their stores to fulfil orders, and the benefits of omnichannel approaches to the product journey. Watch our omnichannel video below to find out more, or download the whitepaper here.  …
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  • 17 Jul 2017
Video: Auto Replenishment System
A retailer’s replenishment system is one of the most powerful engines for ensuring the correct levels of stock are in the right place, at the right time, for optimum sales performance. With the right stock replenishment software, not only are you improving margin and cost-to-serve the customer, but customer satisfaction is further increased with better omnichannel stock availability. We’ve just launched our latest Merret video, highlighting the key benefits of our auto replenishment system. Over 20 leading global retail brands are benefiting from our award-winning solution, which is responsible for the dynamic movement of stock between their warehouses and stores. Stock replenishment algorithms within Merret are user defined, allowing businesses to have dynamic control over their operations, using 100% stock visibility and critical data analysis to make better decisions on inventory management and forecasting. This means that retailers are achieving more full price orders and maximising their stock turns: margin is made every time the stock in the warehouse is sold or “turned around”. Our auto replenishment retail system maintains optimum inventory levels on all products using 3 types of store replenishment, which can be manually selected/de-selected: Ideal replenishment (setting min/max levels to prevent under/over stocking). Sales performance is tracked and ideal stock levels replenished. Changes to ideal stock can also be forecast and prior to specific activity e.g. promotional events, to avoid selling out. Replenishment to planned cover Improved stock and sales insight allows inventory forecasting and planning stock cover/safety. ‘n for 1’ For continuity or seasonal items, this rule keeps stock levels at their optimum, whether this be fixed, increasing, or decreasing.  Merret also helps retailers avoid out-of-stock scenarios by using a combination of stock rationing in the instance of low/zero stock, replenishing based on rules that ensure it is assigned to the store where it can be best sold.  Stock substitution can also be activated to provide relevant substitutes to continuity products. Read more about the benefits of our auto replenishment system on its dedicated webpage, here. If you want to see how Merret’s replenishment system supports omnichannel retailing check out our dedicated video here.…
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Karen Millen Merret
  • 20 Jun 2016
What does omnichannel mean to you?
Retail Assist is continually approached to support retail brands’ omnichannel aspirations and operations, but what is omnichannel? Omnichannel is a real-time, channel-agnostic visibility of inventory across the supply chain using a central stock pool, complemented by a single view of the consumer as they simultaneously shop across various channels, with the ability to fulfil demand anytime, anywhere. As supply chain software specialists, we understand that the term “omnichannel” means many different things to retailers, and so tailor our solution, Merret, accordingly. We have 21 “omniscenarios” that we can currently offer as standard. Whilst one brand may see omnichannel trading as the ability to perform operations such as ship-from-store to maximise the financial potential of stock inventory, another may view omni-ability differently in terms of what they can offer the customer: online orders returned in-store, for example. This is why we scope out our customers’ exact business requirements when they need support to implement omni. Retail Assist’s end-to-end supply chain solution, Merret, has been developed to deliver the following omnijourneys, to fit our customers’ business needs: As you can see, there are two main ordering options (online – encompassing mobile, tablet, desktop ordering; and in-store), two fulfilment options (from the warehouse; or from stores), and two delivery options (direct to the customer – home delivery; or to a collection point – for example a store). Having the ability to fulfil orders regardless of channel, due to a single view of stock, is one of the biggest benefits of Merret cited by our customers. Latest statistics from our Merret customer, Oasis, reveal that since fulfilling orders through Ship-from-Store, 20-30% incremental web sales have been achieved. Making in-store inventory available to online customers is critical to support increased demand with more opportunities to sell stock at full price – Merret’s central stock pool facilitates this, as in quadrant 1 and 2. Click and Collect also presents great opportunities to drive sales, as New Look reports: a quarter of its Click and Collect customers make additional purchases when collecting in-store. During seasonal periods, these average an extra £27 per transaction. Merret drives all of the processes you can see in the infographic, which when written out take the product through the following “omnijourneys” from point of order/sale to point of delivery: Order on Web, Fulfilled from DC, Delivered to Home Address Order on Web, Fulfilled from Single Store, Delivered to Home Address (Ship from Store) Order on Web, Fulfilled from Multi Stores, Delivered to Home Address (Ship from Store)   Order on Web, Fulfilled from DC for Customer Collection (Click and Collect) Order on Web, Fulfilled from Collection Store for Customer Collection (Click and Collect) Order on Web, Fulfilled from other Stores for Customer Collection (Ship from Store & Click and Collect)   Ordered in Store, Fulfilled from DC, Delivered to Home Address Ordered in Store, Fulfilled from Store, Delivered to Home Address Ordered in Store, Fulfilled from other Stores, Delivered to Home Address (Ship from Store)   Ordered in Store, Fulfilled in Store…
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Maximise stock availability
  • 25 Apr 2016
Maximise stock availability with Merret
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been outlining the key benefits of using Merret to drive efficiencies in your omnichannel retail processes. As well as facilitating a single view of stock, explained here, our omnichannel supply chain solution is helping retailers to maximise stock availability. At a time when the customer demand requires fulfilling across all channels with the same availability, 24 x 7 x 365, having an agile inventory and flexible stock pool to fulfil orders is essential, to avoid customer dissatisfaction. For example, one way in which Merret maximises stock availability is its central stock pool’s ability to use in-store stock to fulfil orders from different channels, as well as stock in the DC. This prevents frustrating out-of-stock situations online, when the item may in fact be hanging unsold on a rail in a store. This process is also known as ship-from-store, explained here in an infographic. Merret has been developed to offer practical benefits when deployed on tablets in-store, enabling store staff to carry out omnichannel processes when on the shop floor with responsive, modern technology. For a more detailed look at Merret Tablet Inventory and its benefits in action, watch the solution used in-store with our customer, Karen Millen; Karen Millen went live with Merret early last year. You can watch the full video on YouTube here. The flexibility the solution gives to store staff is invaluable. Without being constrained by fixed terminals or clunky hand held devices, still able to walk the shop floor and interact with customers, store staff can do the following through Merret Tablet Inventory, as mentioned in the video: Process Inter branch transfers, create, send and receive Receive stock from the warehouse Progress write on / off transactions Undertake a stock-take Carrying out these processes as soon as they require actioning, in response to real-time sales data, Merret allows a freer movement of stock that is 100% visible and accurate, helping maximise stock availability by placing it where it is needed most. In this way, more profitable business decisions are made and actioned. Retailers can then fulfil more orders, and sell more stock at full price. Interested in how our retail IT solutions could facilitate more efficient omnichannel retailing across your brand? Simply fill out this quick contact form and a member of our Sales team will be in touch, or call our Head Office on +44 115 904 2777.  …
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