IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality


RetailEXPO 2019 Round Up
  • 7 May 2019
“Millions of opportunities to get it wrong and lots of complexity to get right!” Our Retail Expo 2019 Round-Up
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Executive Conferences, stands, thousands of visitors and, of course, the obligatory appearance from Pepper the Robot – it can only be RetailEXPO! Held at the Olympia London over two days, RetailEXPO unites Retail Business Technology Expo (RBTE), Retail Design Expo (RDE) and Retail Digital Signage Expo (RDSE) to represent all things in the world of retail and ecommerce. And this year, ‘customer experience’ were the words on everyone’s lips. With the Tech Zone, Design Zone and Digital Signage Zone, many aspects of the retail environment were represented. Click here to watch the video on YouTube We spotted two brilliant applications to combine online and in-store shopping experiences. Near Street uses a retailer’s high street inventory to drive traffic, ushering people to locate products in their locality. As an effective way of getting people to visit their local high street, it’s currently in use in shops as far as Orkney. Similarly, Mercaux’s app uses tablets to help sales associates to make outfit recommendations, offers automated alternatives and styling suggestions, aiding the sales associate to increase a brand’s offering, all whilst standing next to the customer. In another way, CloudCasting uses mirror displays to show digital content. Their smart mirrors have a digital screen hidden behind the mirror, as retailers can update communications that are reflected out to display adverts or promotions to customers. The interrogation of the customer experience and what modern retailers must offer was reflected in the conference, too. Andy Murray, Asda’s Chief Customer Officer, took to the main stage to discuss their approach to customer improvement, especially when working with the scale and legacy that Asda holds. He explained that there are “millions of opportunities to get it (the customer experience) wrong and lots of complexity to work through to get it right”. After starting his role in February 2016, Andy and his team took their approach back to basics by asking: what is the real customer value proposition? For Asda, that meant helping busy customers save money and live better and to move away from distinct customer stereotypes that had been shown in historical Asda TV adverts. For Andy, his view of a customer is very simple. He said: “Anyone who puts food in their mouths and eats is my customer!” For more of our retail technology reflections, subscribe to our YouTube channel here.…
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RBTE 2018 blog
  • 8 May 2018
RBTE 2018: Technology Takeaways
RBTE 2018, taking place last week at Olympia London, offered a packed-out agenda with the latest retail technology on the Show floor, and industry insights shared across 4 conference theatres. Here are our RBTE 2018 video highlights! Katie Anderson reports in our top technology round up vlog from the Show.  RBTE 2018 video highlights You can view the video on our YouTube channel here. What else did we see at RBTE 2018? Pepper: Robots and CX   Just met @peppertherobot! Is this the future of in-store consumer interaction? #retailtech #cx #retail #rbte2018 @rbtexpo — Retail Assist (@RetailAssist) May 3, 2018 If you’ve attended a technology conference in the last year, chances are that you will have met this little guy before. Pepper the Robot, representing the possibility of robotics in retail stores, has the potential to enhance several areas of the customer experience, becoming an alternative to an information kiosk/or tablet, offering a walking/talking service. It can show you where to find a product, “read” your facial expressions and interact accordingly, and even recommend products based on the clothes you wear. For all the buzz, we’re yet to remain convinced that robots will replace humans in-store entirely, especially in the fashion retail sector. Human-human interaction and expert product recommendations have a place in fashion that cannot be replicated in a truly sophisticated manner by robotics – for now anyway! .@PepperTheRobot has been developed to provide a richer #CustomerExperience, acting as a ‘middlerobot’ to assist store staff. #rbte2018 #rbte18 #rbte #retailtech #cx — Retail Assist (@RetailAssist) May 3, 2018 Robots’ potential for enhancing the customer experience comes hand in hand with a human – a middle bot. For example, going to retrieve a product for the fitting room or check stock levels, whilst the sales associate interacts with the customer. ASOS: the story of retail success We were privileged to attend a keynote conference session at RBTE 2018 with Brian McBride, Chairman of ASOS. His session on ‘Evolve or Die’ involved fascinating insights on ASOS’ success, as well as lessons for all retailers to learn this year. Being online-only gives a competitive advantage to ASOS: they are able to know a lot more than their high street competitors, thanks to the huge amount of data their customers share with them. The challenge that high street retailers face is that the only data they usually collect is the bank the customer made the transaction with, unless they are making an omnichannel order requiring more detail. McBride went on to explain that machine learning and AI has helped ASOS to offer some of the best personalisation available. Since most ASOS customers are millennials – or better, Gen Z – they’ve been quick to adapt and have made extensive use of new features like visual search. ASOS the unstoppable vs the Amazon Effect Good to see ex-Amazon UK boss and now ASOS chairman, Brian McBride, at #RBTE2018. Paraphrasing Darwin, he says survival of the fittest in the current business world typically comes…
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RBTE 2018 video
  • 4 May 2018
RBTE 2018 Video: Top Technology
As you get back into the office after a busy two days at Europe’s biggest retail technology Expo, we bring you our RBTE 2018 video highlights! Katie Anderson reports in our top technology round up video from the Show. What were the highlights at RBTE 2018? You can view the video on our YouTube channel here. Fintech meets Fashion: Qivos As you’ll hear in the interview above, Qivos’ CEO Vagelis Karalis notes the importance of creating a jewellery item that could pay, rather than creating another wearable payment device. Qivos’ world-first partnership with Links of London and Folli Follie shows exactly this: that fashion forward payment devices are a real departure from the gadgets we have seen in previous years. With a simple contactless tap, the wearer can pay for any item with Qivos’ Visa-verified jewellery pieces. They improve safety (no need for cash/cards), user experience (simple, one-tap contactless payment), and are designed with the wearer in mind. Mercaux X Olapic Retail Assist has worked with Olapic on a previous project, to bring social media streams of user generated Karen Millen content into our Nexpo Store of the Future, with #MyKM. At RBTE, it was great to see that Olapic has now partnered with Mercaux, to bring the best UGC to Mercaux’s mobile platform. We were impressed with how seamless the customer journey is from inspiration to transaction – with just two clicks to purchase – which you can watch in the demo above with Ed Addo from Olapic. Virtual Reality: the Omnichannel edition VR first came onto the scene a few years ago, as a piece of technology that created an immersive gaming/entertainment experience, with no real user case for the retail sector. At RBTE 2018 we were impressed to try out GK Software SE’s VR solution, which integrates with a retailer’s stock pool and store systems, in order to provide an end-to-end omnichannel journey. Purchasing straight from the headset in a realistic high street setting, the order doesn’t always have to be fulfilled online – as the store is also notified of the transaction activity to allow store fulfilment, should it be the more cost-effective option.  We can’t believe another RBTE has come to an end, and are already looking forward to next year! It was great to meet up with clients, partners, and new faces. What were your Show highlights? Comment on our retail technology blog below.…
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RBTE 2018 Retail Assist
  • 30 Apr 2018
RBTE 2018: Top Trends Prediction
What will be the top trends at RBTE 2018? It’s just 2 days to go until this year’s RBTE, 2-3rd May at Olympia London. To meet up with any of the Retail Assist team over the 2 days, please email See you there! Look out for our live updates from RBTE 2018 on our Twitter page @RetailAssist. We’ll be rounding up our insights in an RBTE video update later this week, which you can see on our YouTube channel. So, with NRF, Retail Week Live, and World Retail Congress behind us, what do we expect to be the top trends at RBTE 2018?… The Fast and The Furious One of our favourite insights from the recent World Retail Congress in Madrid comes from Retail Reflections: “If you’re not obsessed with speed, you’re probably obsessing about the wrong thing.” “Rapid ultra-fast adoption of technology is undoubtedly now at the core of modern retailing but combined with a willingness to realise that the rules have changed”, says Andrew Busby. With a call for new experiences, and faster trend adoption,  retailers must start creating new rules to play by. Gen Z’s comfort with a fast pace of change allows retailers to bring out their latest technology innovations quicker than ever before, with reduced fears of low adoption. AI or Die Retailers recognise that to manage and support future growth, they need to invest in technology. One of the industry’s greatest success stories, ASOS, is seeing that a rising capex and greater investment in technology is paying dividends. ASOS completed 1,200 tech updates during the last six months alone. In this space, AI has taken up the most attention. On the subject of AI, Nick Beighton comments: “[AI] is going to be a game-changer for us in many important areas, not only improving customer experience but also lowering the cost of how we operate our business model.” We expect RBTE will place huge importance on harnessing the power of AI, to improve customer engagement, empower employees and optimise operations. Predicted AI buzzwords: accuracy, efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Why tech must enhance, not challenge On the subject of efficiency, we have seen increasing emphasis on the need to empower the retail workforce. Mercaux’s Sales Assist app. Providing the detailed information that customers want – on products, their availability, and delivery options – removes the risk of lost sales and customer churn. Customers are satisfied because they don’t have to wait for store associates, and store associates are happy in the knowledge that they can provide accurate, personalised information. If you want to see our partner solution in action, make sure to check out Mercaux on stand J141.…
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  • 23 Apr 2018
Mercaux’s Top 3 Trends Ahead of RBTE 2018
An RBTE 2018 guest blog from our partner Mercaux, by Bhavna Sakhrani. Mercaux’s Top 3 Trends Ahead of RBTE 2018 2018 has been the year for transformation at scale. As the Amazon effect continues to impact the retail industry, improving customer experience and thus increasing store sales are at the core of retailers’ in-store strategies. Most importantly, it is an opportune time to implement solutions that blend the online and offline shopping journey to create a seamless experience that is unique and memorable. With just one week left before the industry’s biggest event of the year, the Mercaux team has highlighted a few key themes and innovations we expect to see at this year’s Retail Business Technology Expo (RBTE) on May 2nd & 3rd. 1) Creating Unique and Memorable In-store Experiences Customers in retail stores come in search of a physical experience that blends the convenience of purchasing online with the human element of shopping in-store. For customers who know what they want and are simply in search of a particular product, they can go online to purchase for the convenience and rapidity of e-commerce. However, those who come to buy in-store, come to explore, seek inspiration and guidance, and expect a superior customer experience. One way for retailers to deliver an impactful experience is by offering styling suggestions and outfit recommendations to create a personalised inspirational experience. Mercaux’s Digital Styling app features a looks gallery with marketing and UGC content, looks created by sales people via digital outfit builder, product cross-selling and alternative recommendations. The solution is powered by an AI-driven engine to deliver seamless personal styling experiences in-store and allows sales associates to email outfits to their customers for further engagement. 2) Improve Store Operations and Efficiency Visual Merchandising is one component that highly impacts the overall look and feel of the store, which in turn affects the customer’s willingness to buy and come back. With “fast fashion” trends becoming even more important, effective and consistent communication between Head Office and Visual Merchandising teams should be a high priority for all retailers. Retailers looking to improve efficiencies and simplify existing processes should consider technology platforms that offer real time communication features. Mercaux’s recently released Visual Merchandising tool offers features such as mobile store reports, real time feedback and notifications, and the ability to track, compare and review all Visual Merchandising guidelines. 3) Blend the Online and Offline Shopping Journey with In-store Technology Today, customers entering retail stores are channel agnostic and use multiple devices to research products and get acquainted with brands. Retailers can benefit from blending the online and offline experience by empowering their sales people with in-store mobile technology to enhance the end-to-end shopping journey, from product discovery and styling inspiration to instant checkout. Creating a seamless experience that is powered by technology enables discovery, generates new demand, and builds relationships. With a digital infrastructure in place, stores will: Become a marketing channel where customers can browse through digital content Carry less stock, but sell more…
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RBTE 2017 Retail Assist
  • 7 Apr 2017
RBTE 2017 – Meet the Retail Assist Team!
We’re exhibiting at RBTE, taking place in just under a month on Monday 8th and Tuesday 9th May, at Olympia London. We’d love to share introductions to our team before the Show! If you don’t already know us, get familiar with the Retail Assist team here, and put a face to the name. We’ll all be on our Stand 235 for the duration of the Show. Borys Krywyj, Head of Business Development Chat to me about your new business requirements – POS implementations, Help Desk outsourcing, new store openings, global expansion – there’s so much scope to our Managed Services. Roger Bannister, Head of Account Development Looking forward to meeting up with our customers on the stand. Drop by to discuss new opportunities, or let me know if you’re at the Show and we’ll grab a coffee. Alex Broxson, Head of Marketing I’m interested in everything marketplace related, so speak to me about latest developments and how your technology can keep up. Gary Stimpson, Account Development Manager Although I’m a new face in Sales, I’ve been with Retail Assist for a while. Talk to me about our latest Help Desk projects. Katie Thompson, Digital Executive Want to know about our latest stats? Happy to discuss our industry benchmarking and more! Rhianne Poole, Marketing Executive Talk to me about latest technology trends and our global industry award win, ‘Best Managed Service Desk’. Now you’ve got to know us, feel free to schedule a meeting with our team! From POS implementations to 24 x 7 IT Support, data exchange to store openings, Retail Assist offers a scalable range of IT Managed Services to suit your requirements. With 10X better performance than industry average IT Support, we were also awarded the ‘Best Managed Service Desk’ globally last year. See our latest benchmarking stats here – the stats don’t lie! Check out just some of the brands that we support on our customer page. We would be happy to discuss how we can help you save 30% of your IT costs and much more.  Stay updated ahead of RBTE by reading our blog, or follow us on Twitter for daily updates with #RBTE2017. If you are attending or exhibiting, and would like to meet up at the Expo, please fill in your details here. We look forward to meeting you on Stand 235!…
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retail IT support
  • 27 Mar 2017
RBTE 2017: Top tips for technology uptime
IT issues can hit anyone at any time – even the most highly organised businesses. But by adopting a proactive approach to incident reduction, retailers and hospitality providers can prevent simple technical issues, such as till downtime, from damaging their sales potential. Perceived waiting time and inconvenience at the checkout are key predictors of ‘shopping cart abandonment’, and in today’s fast-paced digital world, patience in-store is wearing thin. It has been estimated that losses due to systems downtime work out in the tens of thousands. Would you have the right support in place in this situation, to get your systems back up and running before such cost damage could occur? Consumers have the ability to transact anywhere, at any time, and retailers’ IT support must reflect these expectations. Outside of the weekday nine-to-five remit, turning to outsourced service providers for extra weekend support can bridge the gap between in-house capabilities, which offer more hours of support and a breadth of skills that comes from using a shared service. Our support capacity is 4x higher than industry average. We even saved one of our customers 30% of their IT costs through our outsourcing model. By having the right support in place, it helps to eliminate the risks of till downtime and other technology related problems that negatively impact service. This not only gives businesses reassurance, but also helps to promote calm and confident store staff. Although things can go wrong, it’s how you put them right that matters. Playing a ‘behind the scenes’ role, IT Managed Services help to save time whilst increasing profit by delivering greater systems uptime at the point-of-service. It’s not just retail that we specialise in, having supported leading hospitality brands such as Pizza Hut for 3 years with 24 x 7 IT support. Keith Frimley, IT Director at Pizza Hut Restaurants added: “Retail Assist supports some of the UK’s largest and best-known retailers, which gave us confidence in their capabilities. They understand the importance of keeping systems fully operational and keeping staff at ease, whilst finding resolutions to the challenges they are facing. This is something which is as critical in hospitality as in retail. We’ve found them to be efficient and effective, which has resulted in us reaping the benefits of improved service to our operations and reduced disruption to customer service”. We also understand that your stores aren’t just UK based – supporting global stores is a specialism for our multilingual analysts – we actually speak double the number of languages as average IT Support. By analysing incidents and identifying patterns, simple trend analysis can prevent future issues from recurring. This might also involve identifying where costs are being incurred and reducing the number of chargeable hardware call outs. Our latest benchmarking stats show that Retail Assist performed 10x better than industry average IT Support last year across a range of criteria including SLAs, languages, and support capacity: see the full infographic here. Retail Assist will be on Stand 235 at RBTE. Drop by…
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