IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

2010 News

  • 7 May 2010
Mint Velvet and Retail Assist shortlisted for Retail Week Technology Award 2010
A nine-month project delivered in 3 months, in time for new business launch The judging panel of this year’s Retail Week Technology Awards has shortlisted one of our most successful recent projects, completed in partnership with new women’s fashion retailer, Mint Velvet, and BT Fresca for the award category of ‘Project Implementation of the Year’. Mint Velvet engaged us as its outsourced IT partner last June with the brief that all IT systems, software/hardware, infrastructure and communications go live on 1st October to run a fully multi-channel business and to meet their launch into House of Fraser. We planned the optimum solution and delivered a nine-month project in three months! We recommended systems that were flexible and scalable enough for all requirements including head office and warehouse, systems integration across the supply chain with e-commerce, store systems and concessions. We also provided a secure hosting environment, with the optimum mix of software and applications identified to meet all business, retail and operational criteria. The judges were impressed that, despite this pressure and the scale of the undertaking, our core team delivered – on time and 17% less than the original budget – a powerful, scalable, multi-channel merchandising system and fully-transactional website, founded on a robust end-to-end retail IT and communications infrastructure. Explains Stuart Grant, Commercial Director at Mint Velvet: “We started with a blank sheet and met Retail Assist. From then, we’d established the merchandising system in just six weeks, and set up head office systems. Incredible!” “What really sets this apart is the aggressive pace at which things had to happen. Indeed, the whole ordering, merchandising and warehousing side was even more time-critical, getting that sorted in little over a month. Working with Retail Assist and using Merret made that possible.” Mint Velvet’s first three months’ trading “exceeded expectations” and the company soon ramped up expansion plans. “Our solution not only allowed us to achieve start-up, but also to open a second wave of stores very easily. We have a platform that’s scalable for further growth.” “We achieved all our goals, in the timescales. Empowering a trusted provider enabled us to reap the benefits in terms of getting exactly what we needed and ensuring we got it fast. In terms of timescales, this is the sort of project you’d be lucky to complete in nine months. By approaching things in the way we did, we completed it in three months.” The winner of this and other Retail Week Technology Awards will be announced on 15th June at a ceremony in London.…
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  • 2 Apr 2010
Retail Assist wins FM Service Desk for leading high-street retailer
Retail-only IT solutions and services provider, Retail Assist, has won a contract to provide a 24/365 Facilities Management Service Desk to the fourteen distribution centres of one of the UK’s top-rank, high-street retailers. Prior to engaging the services of Retail Assist, the client’s distribution centres had logged calls directly with the engineers. This gave them little or no control over when and how calls were raised and the nature of the issue. This new arrangement offers the client proper management of incidents and invoicing. The Retail Assist FM Service Desk provides an end-to-end service that entails taking calls (currently between 2,500 and 3,500 per month) and logging them on the retailer’s incident management system. Once logged, the incidents are passed to a specialist maintenance company that supplies engineers to service the sites. Retail Assist then reports back to the client on repeated incidents or badly-performing sites. The client is benefiting from this new relationship in a number of ways. Costs can be calculated up-front, and the service is on course to become self-financing in the short term. Retail Assist represents a single point of contact. It assigns incidents to the engineers and ensures each incident is seen through to resolution. It proactively analyses trends and highlights repeat failures, which enables the client to put a permanent solution in place to prevent re-occurrence. Going forward, this more accurate management information will allow the client to identify and deal with faults cost-effectively. Retail Assist’s retail customers enjoy a service which provides either a full-time or “out of hours” resource to manage all calls relating to buildings and operational items, from the incident through to resumption of service. Incident management, escalation and reporting are conducted in accordance with Operational Level Agreements (OLA) and/or Service Level Agreements (SLA). Observes Dan Smith, Managed Services Director at Retail Assist: “For FM clients, our Service Desk becomes the hub for managing all the problem areas to which a retailer can be exposed. We apply those same benefits of flexibility, expertise, cost-effectiveness and ownership that our IT Service Desk users enjoy for support of their retail applications and store systems.“…
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  • 2 Mar 2010
Merret supply chain ERP solution to be enhanced by eLearning
Retail-only IT solutions and services provider, Retail Assist, has collaborated with specialist retail training company, First Friday, on the production of an eLearning solution for its Merret merchandising and warehouse supply chain system, which will be branded Pathfinder. Retail Assist chose to outsource the creation of Pathfinder and felt that First Friday could offer the skilled resources needed. Explains Gary Broughton, Professional Services Director at Retail Assist: “First Friday already have relationships with major retailers and their consultants are not only training specialists, but also come from retail backgrounds. When working on Buying & Merchandising projects, they deploy consultants with that expertise. A combination of using our Merret expertise and their extensive knowledge of supply chain is enabling First Friday to produce first-class eLearning modules.” First Friday founder and managing director, Robin Turner, says: “We are delighted to partner with Retail Assist to help retailers to realise the full value of Merret. Using our retail expertise and experience in supporting implementations of products like Merret, we have developed an eLearning solution that allows a new Merret client to up-skill its staff and realise the full benefit of its investment. Pathfinder eLearning offers three different packages. The new solution covers Merret MMS (Merchandise Management System) and WMS (Warehouse Management System). All reporting is still catered for by quick-reference guides, as this element, with its many variables, is not best served by the eLearning approach. Concludes Broughton: “Pathfinder and our First Friday collaboration will only enhance the appeal of Merret. We are confident that our Merret clients will react very favourably. The package, its sustainability and its method of delivery will remove any concerns they might have about their company’s ability to adopt Merret quickly and easily.“…
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  • 2 Feb 2010
Vue Entertainment outsources IT Support & Service Management to Retail Assist
Vue Entertainment , one of the UK’s premier cinema chains, has outsourced the management of user support and technical service management in its head office and across its 69-strong cinema estate to Retail Assist. It is a milestone for Retail Assist, marking the company’s entry into the leisure sector. Vue employs 3,000 staff, including 100 at its head office. The objective was to establish a single point of contact across the business for everything IT related, and to formalise all elements of service management by means of structured processes and procedures. Observes Vue Entertainment’s IT Director, Roland Jones: “This new partnership with Retail Assist means our staff will no longer need to think about who they need to call for what. With just one team owning all calls, we can look forward to faster problem resolution and better communication.” Prior to engaging the services of Retail Assist, Vue used a third party for 1st-line user support of its Vista software solution whilst support for other IT systems was provided inhouse. Support services needed to be streamlined, both to reflect Vue’s increased reliance upon IT and to optimise the cost-effectiveness of the operation. The decision was made to put both elements of service management out to tender; a process from which Retail Assist emerged as winner. “We couldn’t help but be impressed by Retail Assist’s Help Desk. They are used to supporting some of the UK’s largest retail businesses,” continues Roland Jones. “We also liked their professionalism, energy and enthusiasm.” Retail Assist pulled out all the stops to get the new service up and running speedily. It achieved this in just 5 weeks after securing the contract, well in time to support Vue’s peak trading over the Christmas holiday period. Retail Assist is providing a Retail Service Desk service between 9am and 12am, 364 days a year, covering 1st-line support and incident management. It is also delivering a full IT service management function encompassing problems, service levels and knowledge, together with service asset and configuration management. Retail Assist is the channel for all IT support across the Vue business, and is also assisting in the day-to-day management of third-party suppliers and their service level agreements. Retail Assist owns all support calls until resolution. Using its specialist Retail Service Desk technology, it provides full visibility of support calls, manages required changes and liaises with internal or external teams providing 2nd-line and 3rd-line support for specific hardware, software and services. Retail Assist’s Managed Services Director, Dan Smith, carries ultimate accountability for the success of the new relationship. Excited to see the company move into the leisure sector for the first time, he states: “The critical success factors of this new relationship will be to use our experience to drive down call volumes and fix as many problems as possible at 1st-line. We need to provide Vue with management information that will enable it to more easily manage IT operations across a large and geographically diverse business.”…
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  • 10 Jan 2010
Merret and SPI to mark first anniversary in US market at NRF’s 2010 Big Show
From 10th to 13th January, the Javits Center in New York City will once again play host to the largest annual international gathering of retailers and suppliers to the retail industry. When the doors open on the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2010 Big Show, an expected 17,500 visitors from more than 60 countries will be able to engage with 500 solutions providers in a massive expo and convention. Amongst the providers will be Software Paradigms International (SPI), Retail Assist’s North American implementation partner, who will be showcasing the company’s Merret supply chain ERP solution. The 2010 event will mark the first anniversary of the relationship between SPI and Retail Assist, for it was at the NRF 2009 event that SPI launched Merret to the US market. Today, SPI delivers Merret as an end-to-end tool that extends from Business Analysis through professional Project Management, Development & Implementation to Training, Hosting and 24/7 Support. Explains SPI’s Jeff Meaux: “We see Merret as the go-to ERP solution for retailers looking to simplify supply chain management. From its single database, retailers consolidate all information into one, easy-to-access location. With Merret’s management capability, teams achieve greater control over the planning and merchandising process. And with Merret’s development roadmap, retailers know they’re investing in a long-term solution.” “It’s been an exciting year for SPI and for Merret,” adds Retail Assist’s product director, Nigel Illingworth. “In order to protect their competitive edge in tough trading conditions, retailers are being forced to be more savvy. A solution with the depth and breadth of Merret can make a real difference to business efficiency, customer satisfaction and bottom-line profitability, and we look forward to creating a lot of interest for Merret at the January show,” he continues.…
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  • 5 Jan 2010
IBM awards Advanced Business Partner status to Retail Assist
Retail Assist, has been designated an Advanced Business Partner by IBM, in respect of its Merret supply chain ERP solution. Merret runs on IBM iSeries hardware and has assisted retailers such as Paperchase, La Senza and Harvey Nichols. Explains Nigel Illingworth, product director at Retail Assist: “We’re proud to have achieved IBM’s Advanced Business Partner status. This stronger working relationship will help us to enhance Merret, expose it to a wider retail audience and win more business. Merret can only gain from this close alignment with IBM” The Advanced Business Partner designation is an integral part of PartnerWorld, IBM’s global partner development programme. The programme is designed to help consultants, ISVs, resellers and integrators across all industries and all geographies to optimise sales of their IBM-complementary technology.…
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