IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

Retail Assist News

  • 30 Dec 2019
What a Year! Here’s Our Round-Up of 2019’s Best Bits
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Lead, and Andréa Williams, Marketing Officer 2019 has certainly not been without its events: a general election, Brexit (almost!), the first sub two-hour marathon, another royal baby and England nearly winning another rugby world cup have all captured just some of the headlines this year. So, as we all reach the end of this year – and this decade – it gives us a chance to reflect on the year we’ve also had and a few of our own headlines. Thank you for all of your support over the last year. From us all here at Retail Assist, we’d like to wish you all a wonderful, successful and prosperous 2020. Happy new year! January We kicked off the year by attending the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Big Show. Held in New York City, Alex Broxson, Head of Marketing, and Anna Murphy, Communications Lead, represented Retail Assist at the show, vlogging live from the show floor. Read their blogs from Day 1 and Day 2, and also to watch their videos from Day 1 and Day 2.   February In February, we were very excited to welcome Smythson to our growing list of customers. Read more about how we support Smythson here.   March March held some very exciting news for us as we won ‘Best Service Desk CX (Customer Experience’ and were finalists for ‘Best Managed Service Provider 2019’ at the IT Service & Support Awards, hosted by SDI. Click here to read our overview of the evening and for a few more photos, including our Greatest Showman-inspired finalist video!   April This month saw the launch of our video mini-series, talking to smaller retailers and seeing how they approach providing the best customer experience, including 200 Degrees, Bird & Blend Tea Co. and Doughnotts.   May In May, we visited RBTE to network, walk the show floor and to record our highlights from the show. But that wasn’t all… we also won the ‘Sales and Marketing 2019’ award at the Nottingham Post Business Awards!   June On 16th June 2019, we turned 20! With celebrations both in our offices and also at our client drinks event in London, we welcomed in our next decade. Read our round-up here.   July At Retail Assist, we pride ourselves with the positive relationships that we build with our customers and we were thrilled to announce the contract extension with our customer, Hobbycraft.   August Over the summer, we enjoyed having YouTube blogger, Lydia Violeta, as a welcome addition to our marketing team. As a placement student, she produced videos for us, including ‘A Day in the Life’ as an insight into what it’s like to work in our Nottingham head office and Help Desk.   September In September, we attended the E-Commerce Expo, held at London’s Olympia. We also enjoyed a guest blog from Nelson Blackley, Retail Research Associate at the Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University, and published our latest Gen Z research.   October Even more awards success! This time it was the turn…
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Retail Assist Apprentices
  • 12 Aug 2019
Apprehensive About Your Next Career Step? Consider a Retail Assist Apprenticeship!
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Lead This summer, we are delighted to announce further developments in our apprenticeship scheme. After our first cohort of apprentices graduated from our course, we are now looking to employ three apprentices per quarter to see 12 apprenticeship roles created throughout the calendar year. Rae Hayward, Head of People, said: “Exam results might be just around the corner, but going to college or university doesn’t always have to be the route that you have to take in order to further your education. Our apprenticeship scheme not only pays above the average apprenticeship wage, but our intake also receives regular support whilst gaining an industry-recognised qualification. We believe in nurturing people to grow their knowledge and skillset within a fast-paced working environment.” The 18-month course sees our apprentices receive on the job training, whilst their studies will gain them a City and Guilds Customer Service Practitioner Level 2 qualification. Our team are fun, friendly and committed to delivering the best possible service to some of the leading global retail and hospitality brands such as ASOS, Harvey Nichols, Oasis, Ted Baker, Vue and Pizza Hut, and our company has seen substantial growth over the 20 years that we’ve been trading. With our range of company benefits, quarterly development reviews and permanent contract opportunities, there’s never been a better time to earn while you learn. Chantice Sullivan, one of our newly graduated Help Desk Call Analysts, gave an insight into her working day. She explained that her role can see her resolving customer issues, whether that’s through answering emails and telephone calls from clients. Click here to watch the video on YouTube Chantice said: “Every day is very different! I wouldn’t say I have a usual day in the office.” Matthew Proudlove, Chief Operating Officer, added: “At Retail Assist, we’re committed to the development of our people and are proud of the progress many of our team members have made. Many of our Help Desk Call Analysts have progressed to roles within project management and client service management, so we see our apprentice recruitment as the first step in an exciting IT career.” If you’d like to know more about the Retail Assist apprenticeship scheme, visit our apprenticeships webpage here or click here to get in touch.…
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Retail Assist Celebrates Its Platinum Anniversary
  • 17 Jun 2019
Now We Are 20! Retail Assist Celebrates Its Platinum Anniversary
Written by Alan Morris, Retail Assist’s Founder This year, Retail Assist will be 20 years old. Against a backdrop of fear that planes would fall out of the sky, power stations would melt down and – worst of all – tills in shops would stop ringing, in 1999 we created a business that was not only ‘Y2K compliant’ but ready for the 21st Century. By the mid 1990’s, it was clear to us that a paradox was occurring. Retailers were starting to demand more from technology but their attempts to harness the power and reap the benefits were being thwarted by a lack of technology providers that understood the sector. The big IT players dominated the industry and, whilst they were technically capable, they clearly didn’t understand the nuances of retailing. Alan Morris, Gary Broughton and Nigel Illingworth Recognising this, we created Retail Assist to be ‘retail ready’. We put the business use for the technology at the centre of everything we did. We created service level agreements that measured system performance in the overall context of business objectives; picking accuracy, sales data reporting and warehouse throughput were some of the outcomes measured each month, instead of just focusing solely on the technology layer as our competitors were doing. We employed people from a retail background to work on the front line of our operation to ensure the dialogue with our clients was conducted in a language that was meaningful to both sides – a standard that we still hold true today. We understood that retailers must be flexible; they have lots of ideas and need to act quickly to survive and get ahead of their competition. Yes, we needed processes and procedures to ensure that what we did was replicable to the highest quality standards, but rather than put in place a standard, off-the-shelf methodology, we took the best bits of several different ones and created our own. Adopting this meant that we were able to keep pace with our clients’ demands whilst maintaining order and control over the architectures we were building. As the retail industry continued to evolve, with new channels to market being created, expanding trading geographies and variable opening hours, our proposition changed too. We invested a lot of time, money and endeavour to ensure that we kept sight of where the retail industry was headed and where new technologies and innovations could support and drive retailers forward. But now the role of technology in retail has changed; it is no longer just about supporting existing processes and making them, bigger, better, stronger and faster. Technology now defines the retail operation because customers are demanding an experience that means its involvement is imperative. This means that retailers are having to re-invent themselves in order to remain relevant to their target customers: this is not an easy challenge and it is one that is testing every aspect of their business. The need for speed and flexibility around deployment to support the retail proposition has never been…
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Here’s to the next 20 years | Retail Assist
  • 10 Jun 2019
“Thank you all for making a difference – here’s to the next 20 years!” Retail Assist’s CEO, Dan Smith, reflects on our company’s development
Written by Dan Smith, Chief Executive Officer As we move quickly through spring into summer, it is useful to reflect upon some of the good news that is coming our way and also where we are in the two years since the new investment in Retail Assist – and 20 years since Retail Assist began! Since 2017, we have welcomed 18 new client brands, developed software for the digital growth of retail, have been shortlisted for 11 awards and seen the turnover of Retail Assist grow, which is key to enable us to invest in new solutions and services – something which is of prime importance to our team. Not only this, but we have supported many of our clients through the challenges of the retail industry and have supported them to expand internationally, with 53% of our Help Desk analysts now multilingual, as well as being listed as the global winner of Best Service Desk CX Awards at the Service Desk Industry Awards. A busy couple of years! Whilst we see long-term customers like Oasis, Warehouse, Karen Millen, Coast, Harvey Nichols and Paperchase continue their partnership with Retail Assist, we have also seen new brands such as Ted Baker and Seasalt join our list of brands supported. We’ve come a long way since our initial support providing managed IT Services to just one brand, to now providing services or software solutions to 49 brands and counting. The size of our team has also grown to 250 members, with investment in many areas – Client Services, Sales, Training and Development – and new roles to support our future growth in Technical and Desktop Services. We find ourselves with members of the RA team working at the heart of our clients in Karen Millen, Oasis, ASOS, amongst others, and delivering services and solutions to 68 countries worldwide in seven languages, including Italian, Spanish, German, French, Swedish, Dutch and English. But it’s not just our people that are being developed: we’ve been working hard to develop new software for our new brand, OMIO, with the first module, OMIO PIM, being released later this year and a client signed up ready to go with the solution. We are thrilled to support our clients – both old and new – in their future digital growth aspirations. We will also be releasing OMIO Tablet, a solution to enable stores to become mini distribution hubs, allowing store staff to accept online orders to ‘ship from store’ and our own ‘click and collect’ solution, which can be integrated into any ERP solution, all from a simple and user-friendly application. However, whilst the ambition to grow is important for us to remain a vibrant business, it is also very important to understand what determines our current and future success. So what is the DNA that runs through the successful Retail Assist team? Taking personal responsibility for the happiness of our clients, challenging ourselves to improve every day so that Retail Assist can better meet the demands of our…
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Retail Assist is Growing Up!
  • 17 Dec 2018
We might be turning 20 soon, but we’re about to have a growth spurt
It’s certainly been a busy year here at Retail Assist. Having received private equity investment from Foresight Group in 2017 and with nine new clients having joined within the last 12 months, it’s never been a more exciting time to work within our company. However, following so many new clients on-boarding, we need additional resources to support our company’s significant growth. Fancy working in a fast-paced, exciting environment? Here are just a few of the many varied careers on offer within Retail Assist. Our team at the Nottingham Post Women In Business Awards this year! Digital Marketing Executive If you know your SEO from your PPC, then you could be the right person for this role. Working within a charismatic Marketing team, the Digital Marketing Executive drives all digital marketing activities, such as website content, ecampaigns, video production and optimising all content, along with managing external agencies. Alex Broxson, Head of Marketing, said: “Following rapid growth in client acquisition over the last 12 months, we are looking to expand on our digital growth, as our business success is expected to continue. “The field of marketing is ever progressing and we are looking for someone with drive, passion and with the energy to push our digital offering into the future. “If you want to be part of the digital revolution, then get in touch!” Bilingual Helpdesk Call Analyst Hello, bonjour, ciao! Our busy Help Desk operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and also speaks 12 languages. The role of a Bilingual Helpdesk Call Analyst includes answering incoming emails and calls to provide technical support to our many varied clients, working with the leading names in retail and hospitality. Tina Hand, Head of Systems Support, said: “On Retail Assist’s Help Desk, we are a vibrant, energetic and enthusiastic team. “We are looking for people who have customer-focused experience, especially within the retail and hospitality sector. With our ‘can-do’ attitude, we want to hear from problem solvers who have the innate ability to investigate issues further to provide the best possible customer service.” Technical Consultant Systems, servers and software! A multi-faceted role, it requires a high level of multiple server platforms and their associated technologies. Kevin Greathead, Chief Services Officer, explained: “We have created a new opportunity to expand our Technical Consultancy team. The role entails helping our customers to identify new opportunities to deploy IT systems with the successful candidate responsible for designing new solutions, costing up opportunities, and helping to deliver the technical solution. “The required skill set is varied, if you think of all the systems used by our many clients, as this new role may touch on any given element. We also need to ensure that we are bringing new and usable technology to our customers, so the successful candidate will need the skill to learn quickly, have an inquisitive mind and also be an analytical thinker.” People and Progress Rae Hayward, Head of People, said: “Here at Retail Assist, people are our greatest asset. The…
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Retail Assist investment
  • 19 Jun 2017
Retail Assist Turns 18
Retail Assist had its official “coming of age” last Friday, as the business celebrated its 18th year of trading. It’s a very significant milestone for the company, after attracting significant investment in March. With ambitious growth plans for Retail Assist, our Board of Directors (headed by Dan Smith) will take the business on to the next stage of its development. So, what’s changed in 18 years? Since 1999, when Retail Assist was founded, retail has evolved into a whole different proposition; technology is not just important to retailers, but the cornerstone of their operations. We have seen the relentless rise of ecommerce, the launch of click-and-collect as the poster-child for customer convenience, UK retailers going global, and key changes in approaches to the traditional bricks and mortar store (who knew they would end up becoming virtual distribution hubs for web orders through ship-from-store?) In the face of these sector shifts, Retail Assist has adopted its services and solutions to an omnichannel world: 24 x 7 “always on” provision, software design and development to drive changes in retail operations, and supporting the “buy anything, at anytime, anywhere” principle. We now support major clients in the hospitality sector too. As well as 8000 retail stores, we also support more than 700 restaurants, and over 90 cinemas in 66 countries across the world. Check out our industry award-winning Help Desk stats here. Compared with industry averages, we have 10% higher achievement of Service Level Agreements, 4 x more sites supported, double the number of languages spoken and 4 x more support capacity than industry average. To celebrate our 18th birthday, we invited clients and partners to a summer drinks event in Soho. You can see the pictures on Facebook here. Internally, all staff were presented with a bottle of fizz to enjoy over the warm weekend. Thank you to all our clients, business partners and colleagues for all your support over the last 18 years. Looking forward to the 21st!  …
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IT services and solutions
  • 19 Dec 2016
A Year in Highlights: Retail Assist 2016
Reflecting on 2016, it’s been a fantastic year at Retail Assist. Check out a few of our annual highlights: from customer news, to innovative events, we’ve enjoyed supporting our customers’ successful omnichannel retail and hospitality operations, across the globe, 24 x 7 x 365. If you’re interested in any of the below highlights and want to know more, just get in touch via, to see how we could support you. January As with the start of every year, in January comes our annual trip to The National Retail Federation’s BIG Show and Expo (NRF) in New York. In 2016, we identified top 5 technology trends in vlogs live from the Expo Hall, which you can view on our YouTube channel and below. So, did we predict it correctly? We thought the top 5 realistic technologies at NRF 16 were Cognitive Computing, Virtual Reality, Wearables, RFID and Changing Room Tech. Virtual reality has definitely become more mainstream with the introduction of affordable gaming headsets from Sony just in time for Christmas. RFID and smart fitting rooms were showcased in a real, integrated retail setting at our retail technology pop-up, Nexpo, which you can read about in the September round-up below. We can’t wait to see what NRF 17 holds! If you’re going to NRF and would like to meet up whilst in New York, please get in touch via our NRF page here. March Karen Millen is just one of our customers benefiting from smart stock management technology in-store. We went to their Covent Garden store to capture the benefits of using our Merret Tablet Inventory solution in action, which you can view on Youtube here. The flexibility the solution gives to store staff is invaluable. Without being constrained by fixed terminals or outdated 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 transaction Undertake a stock-take Carrying out these processes in response to real-time sales data, Merret allows effective 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. You can read more about the solution on its dedicated webpage here. April It’s all about our Awards win of the year at the SDI Institute’s IT Service and Support Awards, where Retail Assist’s Help Desk won the global Best Managed Service Desk Award! This was a well-deserved recognition for our 24x7x365 IT Help Desk, which sits at the heart of Retail Assist to ensure our customers in retail, hospitality and leisure can trade with minimal disruption thanks to greater IT systems uptime. The SDI’s annual Awards identify the excellence of outstanding service desk teams and individuals,…
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retail technology news
  • 30 Aug 2016
Latest Retail Technology News
It’s been a bumper August for Retail Assist retail technology news, so we wanted to bring you the latest in today’s blog. Harvey Nichols We were proud to announce news of our latest Merret upgrade project with iconic luxury brand, Harvey Nichols. We’ve supported them since 2004, and as the relationship continues it’s been fantastic to grow the brand’s omnichannel capabilities with Merret. In the latest version of Merret, based in the cloud, Harvey Nichols has experienced the benefits of real-time stock availability, allowing them to fulfil the omnichannel customer promise 24 x 7 across the globe. Technology Director, Fatima Zada, said: “The Merret upgrade provides much more in terms of scalability, as our international growth trajectory and ecommerce offer goes from strength to strength. Retail Assist facilitated our journey into omnichannel over 10 years ago, and the recent project has created a solid foundation for our growth vision going forward.” To read the full press release click here. Best Food Logistics Although Best Food is in the logistics sector, IT is a key driver of their business. As IT specialists, we’re supporting Best Food to retain a competitive edge, enabling them to be agile and meet the demands of its customers, for example, servicing 12,000 deliveries a week. Our 24 x 7 IT Help Desk service also helps Best Food reap the benefits of greater systems uptime. Best Food renewed their Managed IT Services contract with us this year for another 5 years. Since virtualising Best Food’s key server environment in 2013, we’ve supported Best Food Logistics on numerous projects to improve performance and maximise productivity. In a project to upgrade disk storage for increased systems performance, Best Food’s warehouse management system, Minster, experienced a 40% decrease in the time taken to complete overnight scheduling. In a recent server upgrade, we were also able to reduce Best Food’s disaster recovery time from 4 hours to just 15 minutes. This has had a very significant impact, and represents just one of many benefits. To read the full press release click here. Oasis and Warehouse This summer we supported the launch of Oasis and Warehouse’s new websites, after re-platforming them on to Demandware. The new ecomm platform enhances the customer experience in new and sophisticated ways. Thanks to the single stock pool of our supply chain solution, Merret, Oasis launched ship-from-store in 2012 and gains stock visibility updates every 10-15 minutes. It really capitalises on this retail advantage through the new ‘shop by store’ online tool, where customers can search specific stores and concessions for available products with real-time inventory. “So if you’re researching to go to the Argyll Street store at lunch time, you can select black dresses, in a size eight, which are available in that store […] this is something I haven’t seen at any fashion retailers I’ve been shopping on – it’s valuable and it’s useful.” – Briony Garbett, Director of Digital at Oasis. Using stores as distribution hubs through ship-from-store has also delivered 20-30% incremental web…
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  • 12 Jul 2016
New structure builds foundations for further growth at Retail Assist
Julian Woodall – HR Director; Dave Roberts – Managed Services Director; Dan Smith – CEO; Matthew Proudlove – CFO; Hazel Olivier – Solutions Director; Renato Pastorino – Client Director. A MIDLANDS business whose IT software and support are used by some of the biggest names in retail and hospitality is gearing up for growth with a new management structure. Retail Assist provides technology, support and expertise which ensures that retailers and well-known hospitality brands can meet customer demand in-store and online. Currently on course for its most successful trading year, the business has now set up a new Operational Board which has seen key staff step up to take on new responsibilities. The move has also seen a new face join the business – people development expert Julian Woodall, who becomes HR Director at Retail Assist. The Operational Board will complement Retail Assist’s Main Board, which is led by Chairman Alan Morris, CEO Dan Smith and CFO Matthew Proudlove. While the Main Board will focus on the long-term strategy of the business, the Operational Board has responsibility for day-to-day delivery. Explaining the new structure, Dan Smith said: “We’re going through an exciting transformation that comes with being an organisation that has grown from a small Nottingham and Northampton company into a multi-site business which underpins the IT operations of some of the biggest brands in retail and hospitality internationally. “The business is performing brilliantly, securing some very high-profile new clients and winning global accolades for the customer service that lies at the heart of what we do. The new structure will help us to capitalise on that growth and move on to the next level.” Retail Assist employs more than 90 people at its headquarters on Friar Lane, Nottingham, while a further 80 people are based at two sites in Northampton – an application centre on the Moulton Park Industrial Estate and a Data Centre nearby on Westleigh Office Park. The business develops and provides global software solutions and round-the-clock IT support services which enable clients like Harvey Nichols, Karen Millen and ASOS  to meet customer demand in an era known as omnichannel – where sales can be in-store, online or click-and-collect. The IT support which it provides is acknowledged to be the best in the industry, its Help Desk having won the Best Managed Service Desk Award at this year‘s Service Desk Institute’s annual awards – a benchmark of global performance. Julian Woodall’s arrival at Retail Assist marks the start of a push to help its team enhance skills and assume responsibilities which will enable the business to explore new opportunities. Julian, whose experience includes senior roles with major retail and financial services organisations, said: “Retail Assist is in a strong position to progress because it is beginning this journey with the right culture – the people who work here, the service they deliver and the environment they operate in are already very good, as the awards testify. “But as a business, we’re ready to move on to the…
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  • 29 Sep 2014
We Welcome Matthew Proudlove as our new Chief Finance Officer
This month we welcome Matthew Proudlove to the Board as our new Chief Finance Officer (CFO). After graduating from Warwick University, with a degree in German and Business, Matthew has gone on to gain valuable business and finance experience in Europe and the UK. Matthew trained and qualified as a Chartered Accountant, spending time in Germany, Austria, and the UK. He then spent 13 years in corporate finance where he was involved in corporate acquisitions, company sales and management buy outs. Matthew joins us from The Real Yorkshire Pudding Company where he was CFO since 2012. Matthew Proudlove, comments: “I see massive growth potential for Retail Assist and can’t wait to get started and make steps towards supporting the expansion of the company. I have always had an interest in retail and enjoy the fast-paced nature of the sector; I look forward to the challenges ahead.” Our Retail Assist Board first met Matthew in 2010 when he worked in corporate finance. Alan Morris, Executive Chairman, comments: “We are delighted that Matthew has joined the team as we continue to build on our growth strategy. Through our previous business relationships with him we knew he was a strong fit for Retail Assist, and look forward to working with him.” Morris adds: “It is with Matthew’s skills and experience within the finance sector, coupled with his enthusiasm that he will help the board to move forward and achieve our business vision.” Matthew’s previous experience in corporate finance, where he worked in both practice and industry means that he has a wealth of knowledge and experience in growing companies. With a keen interest in the IT sector Matthew will be a great attribute not only to our finance department but to the business as a whole. Tim Moxon, our current Chief Finance Officer will leave Retail Assist on Friday 3rd October once he has affected a handover to Matthew. Tim comments: “I will be leaving Retail Assist in order to pursue potential opportunities to work with small sized businesses on a reduced working hour’s basis.” Morris concludes: “Tim has made a considerable contribution to the success of the business over the past 10 years and he leaves with our sincere thanks and best wishes for the future.”…
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