IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality


How to Ensure Your Retail Brand is Ready for Return Culture
  • 24 Feb 2020
Point of No Returns: How to Ensure Your Retail Brand is Ready for Return Culture
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Lead It’s a fantastic time to be a consumer. Never before has so much choice been available to us, with a variety of channels, delivery options, ways of shopping, payment options and even discounts. In fact, we now approach online shopping with the same approach as trying things on in changing rooms – we can take in as many items as we like, try them on and return the items we don’t want to buy, all without having to pay a single penny. However, even better than a changing room experience is that this can now be done in our own homes, all without getting hot and bothered or even having to queue to wait for an available cubicle to become free. All this and throw in a free – and often speedy – delivery service and where once online orders might have been arduous and with tricky returns processes, now the shopping experience has evolved. Many consumers have become used to ordering lots of items from a variety of stores, to find the perfect item or fit and then to return the surplus. The ease with which this is done has been a big spur to many people ordering online; it’s ok to ‘risk’ buying something you haven’t physically seen as you know it can be easily returned if you don’t like it. The downside, of course, is that each returned product is an inconvenience to retailers. But, with a well-rounded customer experience being crucial to a retailer’s success, what’s the solution? Make sure product information is accurate A common reason a customer will give for returning an item is that it isn’t as they were expecting or that it didn’t fit correctly. The best way to reduce the likelihood of this happening is to ensure that all the product information is as accurate and consistent as possible. The easiest way to do this is via dedicated retail IT software such as a Product Information Management (PIM) solution, which ensures that all content is enriched across the many channels a consumer uses, that information updates occur simultaneously and that everything happens in real time. The more information given to the customer, the less likely they are to be dissatisfied and see a need to return. Ensure good warehouse management is in place It’s vital to have a structure in place that allows items to be processed and dealt with efficiently in order to reduce the impact they have on a functioning business. A warehouse management system (or WMS) updates what stock is in the warehouse following returns and is important as ensuring that it is labelled, identified and stored correctly, so that it is immediately ready for re-sale. With a single-view of stock, Merret Pro ensures that this happens, increasing the chances of selling items at full price. Ensure mistakes don’t happen We’re all human and with the necessity for speed to market, mistakes can – and do – happen. However, you can minimise…
Read more
Retail MOT - Retail Assist
  • 15 Apr 2019
Have You Had Your Retail MOT? How To Health Check Your Retail Systems
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Executive It was all so different in retail days of yore. Keeping things functional required little more than ensuring sufficient till roll was available and that the change drawer was well supplied. However, flash forward to 2019 and maintaining a functioning, efficient and healthy retail system now involves the sort of expertise, time and money that would have stunned our retail predecessors. One of the main issues facing any retailer is recognising exactly how they are going to ensure IT systems are well managed. Customer expectations continue to rise – as does competition – and a retail system that is not in optimum health can have major consequences. Dedicating the time, capacity and staff to the undertaking can be challenging, but certainly not insurmountable. Built on our 20 years of experience, here are Retail Assist’s top health checks for retail systems. Engine: Keep Things Ticking Over Sales are the main driving force in any business and ensuring that there are no glitches to cease or stall trading is paramount. Any issues with retail systems should always receive immediate and thorough attention – something that Retail Assist acknowledge with a 24/7 flexible, multi-lingual retail Help Desk service. As there is one single point of contact, retailers can quickly connect with our Call Analysts and see their issues managed right through to the point of resolution. The specialist support offered means that retail employees with no knowledge of how retail systems operate can flag a problem and have it swiftly dealt with, resulting in no time being wasted. Brakes: In-Store Monitoring When there are devices used in-store, it’s prudent to employ a central device management system, such as AirWatch; this remotely monitors devices in a store environment and monitors the health of those devices. However, it also has the ability to ‘put the brakes on’ by locking the device remotely in the case of theft and to also put in place security measures to monitor which devices are connected to the network and control what sites those devices are accessing. Steering: Check that Your Systems are Headed in the Right Direction With modern retail demanding that brands expand over new digital channels, retailers may find they aren’t in a position to fully maximise all selling opportunities. If legacy systems are holding you back or you’re not sure how to implement new channels into your current digital offering, installing a PIM solution can help to steer your business in the right direction. A PIM offers a single, central point of data entry, where product information is optimised and managed through workflow processes, before being published to whichever selling channel is provided. Retail Assist’s software, OMIO PIM, delivers an end-to-end solution that comes with ready-built connectors and integrations to all digital marketplaces. Mirrors: Proactive Reflection Just as retailers continually strive to offer better levels of service, Retail Assist are also continuously improving and looking at new processes and procedures. This involves pro-active monitoring of all retail systems in order…
Read more
How to Avoid the February Sales Slump - Retail Assist
  • 18 Feb 2019
Short, but Deadly! How to Avoid the February Sales Slump
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Executive No sooner has the heady rush of Christmas washed over the retail world than a second wave comes in the form of the January sales. Business is kept brisk by an array of shoppers flocking to spend vouchers, Christmas money and to take advantage of this traditional discounting period. Fast forward to the next month and it’s a stark contrast. February ushers in a more sober retail environment and sales slumps are common as shoppers tighten their budgets. So how do retailers combat this by making the most of this short but challenging month? Target the season Instead of seeing it as a negative month, acknowledging the season and utilising its unique characteristics can produce results. Retailers are fully aware of how customers must feel, so why not capitalise on this knowledge? The New Year mindset in many is one of renewed focus on new ideas, new ways of living and, crucially, of being willing to buy items related to this thinking. Promoting and prioritising items for retail that support this is a good idea; people may well be searching out fitness clothing, but are perhaps less likely to be purchasing clothing for parties and functions for example. Conversely, those who may have participated in Dry January, or who have subsided their extraneous spending until the January pay day, may well be ready to hit the social scene once more! Knowing the target market and how they like to spend their money in minute detail provides key insights no matter what the time of year. Launch a campaign Starting some form of promotional campaign in February can help shoppers make decisions on items they perhaps were putting off until another month. Retargeting campaigns based around contacting who expressed interest in items in the run-up to Christmas, but didn’t actually purchase them, can be part of mail-outs and selective discounting aimed at encouraging customers to fulfil their purchases. There is also scope to base significant campaigns around key dates in February such as Valentine’s Day and the various school half-term holidays, both of which can be used to a retailers advantage. Product countdowns that allow customers to see exactly how much stock there is left of limited items will also draw them in and encourage them to act swiftly. Having a clear customer engagement strategy with specific content marketing will encourage purchasing decisions. Use time and budgets in a different way As sales slow in February, taking advantage of any extra time can be advantageous. Stepping aside from the day-to-day business of a busy retail environment, focus can instead be dedicated to future plans, reflecting on how successful the Christmas and New Year period was and considering what worked and what didn’t. Strategies can be considered for upcoming months and areas such as marketing and its efficiency can be looked at. Considering how the budget might be redirected temporarily can also be helpful. As trading can be slower, taking the usual budget dedicated to the…
Read more
IT Services and Solutions
  • 15 May 2017
A spring in their step: latest retail footfall 2017
What was retail footfall in April 2017? Latest research from BRC Springboard reveals that over the last three months, footfall has increased 0.7% – marking the first positive three-month average since May 2014 and the highest since February 2012. Overall, footfall in April increased by 1.6%, enjoyed its fastest monthly growth since March 2014. The inclusion of Easter and Bank Holidays in April will have contributed to such big numbers, however despite this, the picture over the last quarter has been largely positive. Clearly, there is still a strong desire for physical bricks-and-mortar shopping – research carried out by Retail Week found that 71% of consumers make at least 60% of their purchases in a physical store. However, we know that purchasing alone is not enough. Retailers must integrate their store into a wider omnichannel retail strategy: in the next year, 35% will use stores to ‘browse, touch and feel’ items before buying online; while 9% will use them for click and collect in their collection of online orders. Where are they shopping? As our infographic above displays, UK high streets attracted a large increase with footfall up 2.3% in April – the fastest growth since March 2014. Retail parks saw their shopper numbers increase by 2.7%. However, footfall at shopping centres declined 0.6% year-on-year, set against a three-month average decline of 0.9%. BRC Chief Exec Helen Dickinson said April footfall figures were boosted by visits to shopping destinations during the Easter holidays. The increase was also fuelled by the weakened pound, which drove an increase in tourism: figures from London’s West End highlight this trend, with a 2.7% uplift in footfall this April. Out of Hours One of the more interesting statistics in the report points towards the social shift towards leisure-focused experiences. Whilst high-street footfall rose 1.9% during retail trading hours, trips after 5pm increased by more than 3%. If your IT services and solutions aren’t supported during out of hours, which is the “peak time” for many retailers and hospitality operators, see how our retail IT support could help. Our team is available 24 x 7, supporting end users in 9 languages, in 18 countries. Find out more here, or get in touch about your IT support requirements via In other news, our retail technology blog has been recognised in the Top 100 Global retail tech blogs, as ranked by Feedspot. Thanks for reading!  …
Read more
retail technology news
  • 13 Feb 2017
3 ways to increase your store conversion rate
In the news this week are latest footfall reports on January 2016, as the headlines proclaim the High Street struggles once again. Footfall fell 1.3% in January year-on-year, which marks the deepest decline since June 2016 and the post-Brexit vote slip when footfall plummeted 2.8%. Shopping centres were worst hit: footfall slid 3% year-on-year, making it the 12th consecutive month of decline at shopping centres. On the High Street, figures were down by 0.8%. Cue “death of the High Street” and “online cannibalisation”. But when the UK High Street is still the main channel for 45% of shoppers, it still has a firm place. The trick is making your stores more relevant to the consumer of today. It’s all about stock Consumers admit to visiting retailers’ stores for browsing purposes, to see how a garment will physically look and wear. So, how to make those browsers convert into purchasers? Making your stock readily available where it’s needed most must be the focus for retailers this year. With business rates increasing, and online competition, it boils down to the simple fact that retailers must generate more full price sales per square metre. The store is an asset that must be maximised for the best return. Having items in-stock that are most likely to be bought, in the correct sizes, must be a number one priority. This requires an omnichannel supply chain solution with the flexibility and dependability to utilise a central stock pool to efficiently fulfil and replenish demand across all channels. Stock management and movement must also be achieved more profitably – rather than shipping items to store from the warehouse, our retail IT solution Merret will ship from store if it’s more cost effective.  It’s a fact that customers want items faster, with priority delivery options being favoured by over half of shoppers. If the item can be seen, tried, and bought all in the store visit, this greatly improves the store customer experience.  Or, if it’s out of stock, make in-store ordering an easier and more joined up process, so that the customer isn’t left feeling like they could do it themselves. Which brings us on to the next point… Educate, communicate 7 in 10 consumers say that when they go shopping, they know more than the store assistant. This is changing the culture of the store from one of expert advice and valuable experience, to a plain nuisance. We’ve all been there – the store assistant goes to “check in the back” for your preferred size and never returns, or can’t direct you to the correct location, leaving you to fumble around the store for a good 5 minutes, before giving up and leaving empty handed. Retailers must invigorate store teams to sell well, and give the consumer an experience to remember. Technology such as our Merret Tablet Inventory can give store staff the tools they need to please the demanding customer. It’s demonstrated here at Karen Millen, as the customer asks to check stock in other…
Read more
  • 22 Dec 2014
Black Friday vs Boxing Day
Click here to read our shopping survey results for Black Friday 2017. Click here to read our shopping survey results for Black Friday 2016. In the UK Boxing Day is a well-established tradition in the retail calendar. However, over the past couple of years, the American import that is Black Friday is proving to be tough competition. While the event has been an important part of the US shopping calendar since the 1960s, Black Friday has only been running in the UK for four years and already looks set to overtake Boxing Day. Retailers are jumping on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday trends by kicking off the festive sales nice and early, and helping to boost not only footfall but also customer engagement. The extraordinary success of this event has got many experts thinking about whether Black Friday could fundamentally change the UK shopping calendar. Online Director at John Lewis, Mark Lewis, commented; “Black Friday has definitely become one of the key dates in the UK’s shopping calendar. Following steady growth over the last few years, Black Friday really emerged in the UK in 2013, when we saw the day break our previous records for a single day’s online trade.” Lewis added; “Black Friday is changing the way our customers plan their Christmas shopping.” Some experts have warned that with this growth in popularity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday it could mean the death of Boxing Day sales. From a consumer’s point of view, why would they want to rummage through all of the left over stock when you could pick up cheap Christmas presents a month before the big day? But with price drops in the lead up to Christmas, it doesn’t leave retailers much scope to further reduce prices on 26th December. Tesco says it expects Black Friday to beat Boxing Day sales in 2014 as it reported discounts of as much as 70%. According to Visa on Black Friday, consumers spent £1m on its cards every 3minutes throughout the day. Both IBM and Adobe highlighted the impressive impact of mobile devices over the long weekend that included both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Adobe commented; “Smartphones nearly doubled their share of total online sales on both days.” IBM added; “Thanksgiving Day mobile traffic accounted for 52.1 percent of all online traffic – the first time mobile devices has outpaced their PC counterparts for online browsing.” An estimated £810m was spent online by British shoppers on Black Friday, according to internet retail experts IMRG – this was an increase of 74% on 2013 figures. Cyber Monday also showed an increase on last year’s figures of 44%. Even if the sales season continues on through to Boxing Day, it’s unlikely we will see the same success that was had on Black Friday. Needless to say how retailers perform on 26th December this year will be a key indicator of things to come in the future of retail sales.…
Read more
  • 28 Nov 2014
Black Friday 2014
Black Friday has a massive impact on the retail sector and as an IT company that works largely with retailers we wanted to explore exactly what Black Friday means and find out where the term came from. History Black Friday is the day that immediately follows the American holiday, Thanks Giving, which falls on every 4th Thursday in November. It is also the unofficial kick off of the retail Christmas shopping season, but it hasn’t always been this way. The term ‘Black Friday’ was first established by traffic police in Philadelphia in 1924, long before traffic lights. Although not an official holiday day many employers used to give their employees the day off so that they could take advantage of the discounts that were on offer. However this was not the case for the Philadelphia traffic police who weren’t permitted to have the day off to enjoy some retail therapy, instead they had to man the streets and try and contain the madness. They were rotated on 12 hour duty and even the police band had to lend a hand controlling the traffic in the city centre. So it was not uncommon to see the police band’s trumpet player waving traffic through. Not only did these police officers have to manage the high volumes of car and foot traffic during the day, but also when night-time fell they had to then deal with the crowds that descended on the streets to watch the Army/Navy football game. The Philadelphia Police Department starting using the term “Black Friday” as a negative term surrounding the hassle they would face in policing the day, to try and deter people from venturing out on the streets. The term then got adopted by retailers to signifythe transition of retailer’s financial records moving from the ‘red’ in to the ‘black’ i.e. back into profit. Now the term is becoming widely accepted in the UK, since Amazon first started launching Black Friday deals in 2010, and Asda with their buying power of Walmart behind them in 2013. Today Depending on your perspective Black Friday could be seen as a frantic shopping experience that makes you just want to crawl back under your duvet, or it could be a great opportunity to pick up a bargain just in time for the expensive Christmas period. Black Friday has clearly changed over the years, something that started as an America traffic issue has transgressed in to a shopping bonanza that each year keeps exceeding the targets reached in previous years. The internet has fundamentally changed the concept of Black Friday forever. There is no longer the need to start queuing outside stores from the early hours of the morning in the cold, or even the night before. Last year Amazon’s busiest trading time was at 1pm on Black Friday. This year’s projection for online sales shows that in the UK alone shoppers will spend £1m every 3 minutes which is £6k every second. In the US total sales have been estimated…
Read more
site maintained by we are coda