IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

Our customers

  • 22 Sep 2014
Merret User Day 2014
It’s important for us to involve our user base in the development of our solutions, to ensure we continue to develop a product which is aligned to the requirements of the user community. As such last week we hosted our annual ‘Merret User Day’ to encourage all of our Merret customers to come together and discuss current and future Merret functionality. On the day a number of members from the Merret community attended including; Mint Velvet, East, Oasis, Warehouse, Karen Millen, Coast, Jacques Vert, Harvey Nichols, Morrisons, Paperchase, and Whistles. The day itself was organised and facilitated by Retail Assist members but driven by the needs of the Merret users, with much time for questions and discussions, to address any areas of Merret that was of primary focus for our customers. The ‘Merret User Day’ enables us to develop further efficiencies and grow functionality to meet customer expectations. With contributions from retailers with differing requirements it helps us to generate a better service across retailing channels from omnichannel retailers to pure play e-tailers, helping us improve our service but also helping them achieve their business targets. During the day we discussed a number of key points and we wanted to share them with you. Following an introduction to the day from Robin Coles, our Head of Product Strategy Nigel Illingworth, Chief Executive Officer – Solutions, continued with Merret ‘The Last Year’, highlighting Merret’s; Rich omnichannel functions Ability to work intuitively with 3rd parties Real time omnichannel functionality He then moved on to discuss Merret’s flexible approach and ability to respond to change and growth and this is where the Merret community were given the opportunity to engage and discuss their requirements from Merret during the last year. Following on from this we were delighted to have customer presentations from Anne Sinclair, Multichannel Director of Coast, Oasis, Karen Millen and Warehouse regarding the journey of omnichannel retailing. Then from Grant Henderson, Project Manager at Coast, Oasis, Karen Millen and Warehouse, and Rob Scott our Technical Services Manager, regarding their experiences and advice for a tablet roll-out across a 750 store estate. The focus of the afternoon was ‘Merret the Future’ where we explored the future Merret roadmap. At which priorities for future development were revealed and discussed with clients, to ensure it aligned with their own requirements. The day was concluded with partner presentations and it was lovely to be able to welcome along 4 differing companies that each brought a new and exciting element to the day, but that could all complement our Merret supply chain solution. We had teams from; Momentis, a Canadian based company, InovRetail from Portugal, Triquestra and Powatag. Not only did this add an extra dynamic to the day but it was also so interesting to see what these companies did and how they could work with Merret to provide additional functionality. Keep an eye out for guest blogs rounding up these partner presentations – there are some very interesting findings. We took a lot away…
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  • 15 Sep 2014
Men take note – Whistles have launched a Menswear Collection
From soft structured blazers to canvas and leather backpacks – our customer, Whistles, have launched a menswear line. The collection has been launched just in time for AW14 and we can’t wait to check out the chunky knits and tailored trousers that will be perfect for the colder weather. Below we have included some of our favourite looks from the new menswear collection, we hope you enjoy them. We love the leather ‘runners’ and tailored turn up trousers. This chunky over coat and heavy roll neck will be staple pieces for the approaching winter weather. We love this bright jumper and scarf combo, but are you man enough to wear pink? This outfit is all about comfort but still screams style thanks to the Whistles minimal and simplistic approach. I think the overall feel of the new collection is minimal and smart. The items are simple, but the collection is made up of key pieces that will see you through AW14. The menswear range heavily reflects the feel of the womenswear line, remaining contemporary, easy to wear, linked to classics, but with a modern approach. We have been working with Whistles since 2011 helping to deliver an entire IT infrastructure. As part of a multi-faceted deal, Whistles selected our Merret merchandising and warehousing solution to power its new Distribution Centre managed by Clipper Logistics. Our Merret application forms part of an integrated IT solution, and will drive the multichannel business forward through interfaces to Whistles’ BT Fresca ecommerce website, the upgraded BT Expedite Store6 EPoS solution in Whistles’ shops and store systems in multiple concession partners including Selfridges, Brown Thomas, Fenwicks, House of Fraser and John Lewis. With multiple concession partners, standalone stores and their multichannel offering there are numerous platforms for which Whistles can display their new menswear collection. Jane Shepherdson, CEO of Whistles commented on the range, saying; ‘We have defined our aesthetic, and achieved a consistency in our design. Menswear is something that we have been planning to do since we started in 2008. We recognise that, as with womenswear there is considerable expansion in the contemporary middle market, this is an ideal time to capitalise on this opportunity and bring the whistles aesthetic to menswear.’ The menswear range is now available to buy online, within key stores and selected premium department stores. Click here to shop now. If you would like any further information about any of our services then you can visit our website: or call us on: +44 (0) 115 853 3910. You can also search for us on Twitter and Instagram for all the latest news from Retail Assist.…
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  • 1 Sep 2014
Hobbycraft for Wedding Decorations – Guest Blog
Here at Retail Assist we are very pleased to welcome back our guest blogger Charlie. After her two previous and very successful blogs, we were delighted when she offered to blog for us for a third time. Having previously blogged about finding the prefect bridesmaid dresses from Coast and must have wedding stationary from Paperchase, Charlie is back and this time talking about wedding decorations from our customer Hobbycraft. To read more of Charlie’s ‘Dainty Bride’ blogs visit her page by clicking here. I’ve always thought that decorations can make or break a wedding. Choose something to reflect your personality, keeping the concept both personal and in keeping with the overall theme of your special day and the results will leave your guests amazed. Finishing touches are key to the overall effect of your decorations, you can go for a co-ordinated theme or a miss matched effect, whatever your style there are decorations out there to suit you and your groom. I’ve recently started looking into different decorations and have been amazed with what Hobbycraft have to offer. I’m not really a ‘crafty’ person so hadn’t previously visited Hobbycraft but since I’ve been engaged, it’s my new favourite place! I’ll definitely continue going post wedding; I have seriously been bitten by the ‘crafting’ bug. The good thing about Hobbycraft is that you can recreate amazing ideas that you’ve found on the internet or in magazines for a fraction of the price. They have a ‘Wedding’ section online if you don’t fancy searching the shop, offering everything from Hen Party Supplies to Wedding Cake Decorations. All of their wedding items are listed together, very handy, and perfect for us lazy brides or those on a tight timescale. Right so let’s get started… Although this may look like a ‘Plain Metal Bucket’, (which it is) it’s so multi-functional, and at £1 each they’re a total bargain. You can: 1. Use them as centre pieces by adding some lace around the outside and adding flowers inside. 2. Pop wedding favours in them for your guests. 3. They also provide a lovely way in which to store your confetti. These are just a few suggestions, it’s up to you to get creative and make your wedding truly individual. This ‘Wedding Post Box Birdcage’ is perfect for all you vintage lovers out there. Not only providing an alternative to the usual style of wedding ‘post box’, this is a delicate and pretty alternative and can even be personalised with space to write your new surname on the front. I feel there’s a ‘bucket’ theme starting here… These tiny buckets are amazing! You can get them in a variety of colours and are also available with heart and butterfly cut-outs. A perfect size for tea lights, they will look gorgeous in the evening when the main lights are turned down. Again at only £1 they definitely won’t blow the budget. Who doesn’t love a bit of bunting? Again, like the mini buckets, they have a variety…
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  • 4 Aug 2014
Popcorn at the Ready as Vue Renew Contract with Retail Assist
Vue Entertainment, one of the UK’s largest cinema chains, has once again turned to us to provide IT support across its 82-strong international cinema estate through the renewal of their contract for a further 5 years. We have been working with Vue for the past 3 years and in this time Vue has seen significant growth in the UK and internationally, through the acquisitions of the Apollo UK, CinemaxX and Multikino estates. This has created a business which is active across nine territories including UK, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, Poland, Portugal, Latvia, Lithuania and Taiwan. We will be responsible for management of user support and technical service management in Vue’s head office and across the entire cinema estate, including the delivery of IT Help Desk support services between 9am and 12am, 364 days a year, covering 1st line support and incident management. We also provided support during the installation of the Sony projectors, monitoring any challenges that may have affected Vue in regards to this digital move. Vue were one of the first to make the move to digital and in 2012 completed the rollout of the new Sony 4K digital projectors which provide the very best picture quality available. Dave Wilson, Head of Technical Services at Vue said: “I am looking forward to continuing our relationship with Retail Assist and working with them to ensure that we deliver a first class service to our expanding business. The flexibility of Retail Assist to adapt to our expanding technology portfolio makes them an ideal partner to support the business.” We have helped Vue to drive incident volumes down, work seamlessly with internal IT and business teams and have worked to educate on best and responsible practices. The culmination of this and the firm foundations that we can provide Vue in terms of knowledge and experience have helped to secure this contract renewal. With such an effective service model in place it will make it much easier and more cost effective for Vue’s future growth plans, as the model is scalable and adaptable to expansion requirements. Dan Smith, CEO, Managed Services at Retail Assist says: “We are delighted that Vue Entertainment has again turned to us to provide them with comprehensive IT support services and it adds to our increasing levels of activity within the retail leisure sector. Like their high street counterparts, leisure sector businesses like Vue Entertainment need a robust and responsive IT support service in place to ensure that for every market, time or location, the technology is always in place to help them meet their customer needs.” Roland Jones, Vue Entertainment’s Technical Services Director comments, “Retail Assist is the ideal partner to support our growth and maintain high standards as we move into new territories internationally. We have always been impressed by the high quality technical service provided by Retail Assist, together with their professionalism, knowledge and commitment to supporting delivery of our brand experience. Vue Entertainment’s growth over the last few years has in turn increased the scale…
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  • 14 Jul 2014
Keep Customers at the Centre of your Business with an Omnichannel Loyalty Programme
For retailers, the balancing act between keeping up with the ever increasing demands of consumers and providing a personalised service is becoming harder and harder. Customers want the whole package – so how will you give it to them? To keep customer returning you need to implement an approach which ensures you are consistent and seamless across all platforms. With 63% of consumers using multiple channels when spending over £100, research shows that on average omnichannel shoppers spend more. Retailers need to use this to their advantage, exploring and implementing customer-focused, omnichannel capabilities to meet these evolving expectations and needs. With increased personalisation and technological advances, customers have come to expect retailers to know who they are, what they purchased, and their preferences for interaction, but to not go so far as to invade their privacy and sense of security. There is an expectation to connect not only with retailers seamlessly across channels, but also via personalised communications and targeted offers. A study by the ‘Cognizant Shopper’ found that the top three personalisation factors that influence purchase behaviour are; Special treatment based on loyalty Acknowledgement of status Personalised offers A successful omnichannel loyalty program needs to have the ability to deliver on all these expectations, engaging customers at the right time, in the right place, through the right channel, with the right message. With research finding that 35% of consumers believing that loyalty schemes do in fact keep them loyal to that brand; it’s time to start getting omnichannel loyalty plans in place. When executed correctly, an omnichannel loyalty program can help identify customers, connect online and offline data to better understand purchase behaviour, deliver timely and relevant experiences, and motivate and reward customers for key behaviours that ultimately drive sales. Omnichannel loyalty is crucial for retailers for a variety of reasons; engaged customers are 23% more profitable says Gallus research and Corra’s ‘Ecommerce’ research found around 80% of Americans indicate they are more likely to become loyal to retailers who provide a seamless shopping experience across devices. A retailer with a robust loyalty programme in place means that consumers are more likely to shop with that retailer, due to trust and uniformity within the brand as a whole, with omnichannel loyalty programmes driving preference. Improving customer experience should be at the top of most major retailer’s lists. However, in a Forrester study only 37% of companies listed customer engagement as one of the top business objectives for loyalty campaigns. Omnichannel loyalty remedies this problem by placing customer engagement much higher on the priority list. With the current trends in place, this will undoubtedly continue as a response to customer expectations and buying behaviour. Omnichannel loyalty is indeed all about delivering the right message at the right time in the right way across the channels the customer chooses. Don’t take more information than is necessary. Stick to the basics, don’t ask customers lots of questions producing data that ultimately you won’t use and that will put them off providing. Don’t…
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  • 27 Jun 2014
East Change Direction with Merret Go Live
We have exciting customer news, women’s fashion brand East has gone live with our IT supply chain solution Merret, as the technology platform to deliver an end-to-end omnichannel retail offer to its customers. The implementation of Merret forms part of an integrated IT solution and will facilitate the further development of East’s international and e-tail capability. Merret will enable East to provide a consistent consumer experience across multiple channels regardless of geographical location due to its central stock pool, making it easier for East customers to shop anytime, and anywhere. The implementation will enable East to deliver goods to customers either from the central warehouse, or individual stores, depending on where stock is available across East’s store estate of 60 solus stores across the UK, online, and concessions in the likes of House of Fraser and John Lewis. Suzi Spink, CEO of East commented; “ The changes will enable our stores to become retail hubs for the brand rather than standalone stores, which should deliver higher full price sell-through of stock, as our customers can now buy anything from anywhere in the business, providing the product is available.” Having supported numerous fashion retailers, we are well positioned to facilitate East through this significant change process, which involved the complete overhaul of East’s existing buying, merchandising, warehouse management and Epos Systems. Alan Morris, our Executive Chairman said, “We were delighted; to be working with East, and with the rapid and smooth implementation that was achieved from start to finish. This couldn’t have been achieved without the great partnership between both Retail Assist and East teams.” Alison Lippiatt, Trading Director of East commented; “The scale of business change that resulted from the project was significant and involved all areas of the business. We needed to invest in an end to end system that would fulfil customer shopping and delivery expectations across all channels; Merret offered us this capability. Whilst there was a lot to be achieved in the implementation, it was the speed and efficiency in this project from both a technical and overall business perspective which added to the project success.” Nigel Illingworth, our CEO of Merret, added; “We are delighted that East entrusted us to support their new and exciting business venture. We’re proud to be part of East’s omnichannel journey and providing a solution for comprehensive multichannel commerce.” We work with many exciting brands, and you can see them all here: If you are interested in the work we do and want to see how we could help you please email us: or call us: +44 (0) 115 853 3910.…
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  • 11 Jun 2014
Father’s Day – Sunday 15th June… DON’T FORGET
Great Gifts for Fathers Day! We understand that Dads are notoriously difficult to buy for. But we also know that by opting for a standard gift, a bottle of something nice or a bit of old spice won’t win the award for best son/daughter, especially if you’re competing with siblings to be crowned ‘best child’. So we thought, with the help of some of our customers we would give you a helping hand. Reiss Polo Shirt: What Dad wouldn’t want a jersey polo shirt? Available in light blue or paprika and coming in at £59 it’s the perfect off duty look, casual but stylish, helping bring Dad in to the 21st century. Demon Coat: If you think Dad deserves a bit of treat this Father’s Day then this Reiss coat is it. It’s a bit pricier, coming in at £235 but is definitely an investment piece and Dad will love it. The Damon coat combines practicality with style, so perfect for a work to weekend style jacket. White Stuff Jumper: Living in the UK even if we do get a summer, we all know our summer evenings are on the colder side, so this jumper will be perfect for keeping out that summer chill. This jumper is also available in blue and has recently been reduced so is a bargain at £35.00. Cath Kidston Egg Cup: If your on a bit of a budget this year then this Cath Kidston Egg Cup is an ‘eggcellent’ choice (sorry I couldn’t resist). At just £8 it will definitely brighten up your Dad’s breakfast. Salt & Pepper Shakers: You could even get him the matching salt and pepper shakers as well! £18 for the set. New Look: Socks: New Look has got a great men’s wear range, from comic book socks, to chinos and suits. We love these Batman socks and at just £3.99 you can even afford to take Dad out for a beer! Shorts: We are also fans of these light brown chino shorts. Perfect if your Dad is planning a summer holiday and they are a steal at just £19.99. Paperchase: Cards: Now we have sorted your gift you just need to wrap it and write the card and where else would you go other than Paperchase. Dad’s love beer whether it be in a glass or made out of card, so this Father’s Day card is definitely a winner in our eyes, and at just £2 it’s an easy choice. Wrapping: Take the hassle out of wrapping and pick a stylish bag instead, these ones range from £2.00 – £4.25. Available in a varying sizes and with different coloured handles (size dependent) it’s definitely worth forgetting about the sellotape. Plus the effortlessly chic look is in this season! We hope you have enjoyed our collection of favourite Father’s Day gifts and have found it a useful guide. Whether you go the personal, humorous, or heart-felt route we are sure your Dad will love whichever gift you choose for him,…
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Harvey Nichols
  • 10 Dec 2012
Happy Anniversary Harvey Nichols!
November 2012 marked 6 years since our ‘out of hours’ help desk service began with the iconic Harvey Nichols. To celebrate our anniversary we decided to take a look at how things have changed in both companies since 2006. Back in 2006 Retail Assist is likely to have been taking calls regarding Point Of Sale (POS) hardware and software issues, network issues and login problems. Now we are dealing with similar issues, but support has moved on – for example we now have remote access to POS, enabling us to provide an instant resolution rather than just to log and assign the incident over to be handled by another team. A recent change for Harvey Nichols is the expansion of the business to include a high end beauty offering. The first ‘Beauty Bazaar’ store was opened at the start of this month by style icon Olivia Palermo (who has her own blog here) in the UK’s beauty spending capital, Liverpool. Whilst the technology supported and products sold in store may have changed, the location from which we provide the support has also moved over the years. While we at Retail Assist haven’t opened any extraordinarily glamorous  department stores, we have relocated our Nottingham head office. In 2006 we were located in the Nottinghamshire market town of Bingham. We have since packed up and moved to a high rise office in the heart of Nottingham city centre. Whilst the Directors may not thank us for this, for the sake of context, here are some members of our management team outside the Bingham office many moons ago: And here they are on the balcony of our new(er) location: Another point we’d like to touch upon is international expansion. When we began supporting Harvey Nichols in 2006 they already had an international presence, and had plans of further global expansion.  They certainly kept up with those plans, and even opened a store in the Indonesian capital city of Jakarta in September 2008. Again, Retail Assist has grown with retailers requirements,  enabling the expansion of our own international service offering through regularly helping leading retail brands with their global expansion plans.  In fact, we gained a lot of interesting information from Nigel Illingworth (our CEO of Merret at Retail Assist) and his experiences of international retail here. With the continuing growth of international requirements we are soon to take that one step further through the offer of multilingual services on our helpdesk, with French, Spanish and Italian speaking members of the team. And lastly we’d like to mention something that hasn’t changed – our commitment to great service, and advancing the support provided from our specialist understanding of retailers requirements. We look forward to many more anniversary’s to come.…
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