IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

2014 News

  • 11 Dec 2014
Software and Hardware Upgrade and Migration
December 2014: Drawing on their knowledge of IT and retail, Retail Assist’s project managers have successfully managed the upgrade and migration of new hardware and software for one of their customers – providing them with an increased level of support and efficiency. Retail Assist’s customer, a speciality retailer with over 500 stores in the UK, who already receives technical support from Retail Assist, has once again turned to them. This time to facilitate and manage the upgrade of their operating system, and the upgrade of their hardware system; resulting in an increased level of support. The speciality retailer commented; “We were running on an unsupported operating system throughout our stores and head office so often encountered challenges obtaining a reliable and secure communications infrastructure. With aging hardware we also had added issues around our hardware support. The requirement to upgrade all hardware and software was of paramount importance for future retail growth.” Heading towards the Christmas change freeze added additional challenges to the project as no further software or hardware changes could be made beyond September. Timescale and cost were key project challenges, giving Retail Assist a mere 7 month window in which to manage the upgrade and migration of new hardware and software, and to complete the project, allowing no scope for time creep. The project was completed on time even with the added pressures of project changes and additions along the way, including a change to the IP address scheme. Planning and testing were crucial aspects of this project and due to the precision in which these elements were conducted both intermediate and overall deadlines were met. The project was delivered within budget due to Retail Assist analysing areas of cost savings. By replacing the existing equipment a reduction in the number of racks being used was made, lowering hosting costs. Following a decommissioning exercise Retail Assist were able to help their customer downsize from 19 different partitions to 11. This meant a reduction in licencing costs, and also reduced support costs due to the updated kit, helping to deliver further efficiency in both performance and cost. Dan Smith, Chief Executive Officer – Managed Services said; “Due to the work that was carried out our customer was left with a much faster processing system, which resulted in time benefits and a brilliant working relationship due to the hard work and great communication between both Retail Assist and our customers teams. The project was delivered on time and within budget, helping to reduce costs from hosting, licencing, maintenance and support.” Retails Assist’s customer concluded; “With the smooth transition and management of the upgrade across all software and hardware, we are now in a much stronger position for future retail trading ahead of the key Christmas period.”…
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  • 25 Nov 2014
The Retail Future’s Bright so let’s put on Google Glasses
With technology revolutionising the way we shop what does the future hold? November 2014: “The way people shop has changed more in the last 5 years than it has in the last 20,” states Alan Morris, Executive Chairman of Retail Assist. “The age of online has revolutionised the way we shop and we have seen a progression from desktops through to laptops, mobile and tablets aiding our online shopping habits and forcing retailers to reinvent themselves in the digital age.” Continued Morris. It is now over 20 years since the first widely recognised online purchase of the ‘Ten Summoner’s Tales’ album by Sting, sold for $12.48 plus shipping – and this was just the tip of the retail technology ice-burg. Over the last 20 years a lot has happened, there has been the launch of pure play e-tailers, such as ASOS and Ocado, whose business models simply wouldn’t exist without technology. In 2004 Facebook launched and become the largest online social media site, alongside later developments like Trip Advisor, in which customers were able to start generating their own online content. We have also seen the launch of the iPhone, and the online trading currency payment system, BITCOIN. Over the last two decades technology has progressed from a behind the scenes support system to an instrumental factor in long-term retail growth. Consumers are without doubt setting the pace for these changes in retail, and this means that companies have to be agile and fluid in order to keep up. With such exciting and dramatic changes having taken place throughout the last 20 years, what can we expect from the technology of tomorrow? Predictive Personalisation – Currently when placing a food order online systems remember your previous orders and makes the whole process easier second time round, automatically adding these items to your basket. But in the future this will progress even further with ‘predictive personalisation’ – systems actually recognising and encouraging sales in relation to your likes and dislikes, generating brand affinity – and this will not just be in regards to grocery retailing. Furthermore this could lead to the movement of computers from back-line to front-line, with the computer adopting the role of the manager, making the crucial decisions that the physical staff will then have to adhere to. Click-and-Collect – This still holds massive scope for future developments. Not only will the service become more popular, with a predicted 76% of online shoppers using the service by 2017, but will also help to shape and develop the high-street. This Christmas click-and-collect sales are estimated to reach highs of £3 billion, which is a 40% increase on last year. Additionally, retail consultancy firm Conlumino has predicted that each trip to collect click-and-collect purchases will result in a spontaneous spend of £27. With results like this and currently only two thirds of the top high-street retailers offering the service we expect this number to expand rapidly in 2015. ‘Shoppable videos’ – Video content which generates retail sales are already starting…
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Eclectic Bar Group
  • 23 Oct 2014
Specialist outsourced IT systems support – Eclectic Bar Group moves to Retail Assist
  Specialist outsourced IT systems support provider Retail Assist, has announced that its services have been chosen by one of the nightclub scene’s most successful young businesses. Founded in 2006 and the subject of a successful AIM (Alternative Investment Market) flotation in November 2013, the Eclectic Bar Group is on a growth trajectory. Retail Assist’s Help Desk will provide an outsourced 1st line service to cover the range of peripheral devices and back-office systems that are deployed in 20 of the operator’s venues, across their Embargo Republica, Coalition, Lola Lo, Sakura, Fez, PoNaNa, Dirty Blonde and Lowlander bar brands. The 3 remaining recent acquisitions will be added in in due course, with a view to also support the Head Office in phase 2 of the roll out. As Eclectic Bar Group, IT Manager, Richard Price explains: “With our current growth and continuing expansion plans we needed a partner who can support all our staff and systems not just during the day, but covering evenings and weekends as well, right into the early hours of the morning, 7 days a week. Not only could Retail Assist do that but it came to us with an excellent reputation of supporting high-end brands. We found this appealing and with more openings planned, we were attracted too to Retail Assist’s ability to provide us with other infrastructure services to support new bar openings and refurbishments.” “As a shared managed service, the Help Desk can scale and flex according to our customer’s requirements, growing as they grow,” says Dan Smith, Chief Executive Officer – Managed Services of Retail Assist. “We bring to the table an increase in productivity and a decrease in cost when compared to in-house resourcing. Our ‘open all hours’ support service and lower cost of ownership are compelling factors for hospitality businesses when they consider their support requirements.” Whatever the hour, Eclectic Bar Group staff now have the reassurance of knowing there is someone at the end of a phone if they’re faced with systems issues. The new support service will come online within 6 weeks of contract. Richard Price concludes: “The ability to get the service up and running rapidly was important for us.”…
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  • 3 Oct 2014
Retail Assist Welcomes Matthew Proudlove as the new Chief Finance Officer
September 2014: This month Retail Assist welcomes 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 Retail Assist 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.” The Board of Retail Assist 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 Retail Assist’s finance department but to the business as a whole. Tim Moxon, Retail Assist’s 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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Vue Logo
  • 28 Jul 2014
Retail Assist look Picture Perfect for Vue Contract Renewal
Vue Entertainment, one of the UK’s largest cinema chains, has once again turned to retail technology specialist Retail Assist, to provide IT support across its 82-strong international cinema estate through the renewal of their contract for a further 5 years. Retail Assist and Vue have been working together 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. As part of the agreed five-year deal, Retail Assist will be responsible for management of user support and technical service management in its head office and across the 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. Retail Assist 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.” Retail Assist has 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 Retail Assist can provide Vue in terms of knowledge and experience have helped to secure this 5 year 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 Retail Assist 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…
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East Banner Image
  • 19 Jun 2014
East Change Direction with Merret go Live
Women’s fashion brand East has gone live with Retail Assist’s 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 its 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 said; “ 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, Retail Assist was 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, Executive Chairman at Retail Assist stated, “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, CEO of Merret at Retail Assist, added; “We are delighted that East entrusted Retail Assist 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.”…
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15 Years of Retail Assist Leads to a ‘Record’ Success
  • 6 Jun 2014
15 Years of Retail Assist Leads to a ‘Record’ Success
We are celebrating another company milestone as we record our fifteenth year of business today, 16 June 2014. In a period that has seen the retail landscape transformed, our Nottingham-based company has grown from a small start-up in 1999 to a large operation which today employs a team of over 200 people and runs the technology behind over 35 of the UK’s top retailers. To mark this key anniversary, we have organised a host of special events designed to thank both staff and clients for taking them to the top of the retail technology charts. In a fitting tribute, our Help Desk team have marked the 15th anniversary with a specially commissioned recording of the classic Beatles track ‘Help!’.  Normally responsible for keeping over 12,500 tills ringing in 5,750 stores across 19 countries, for one special day, some of the Help Desk most musical members swapped their headsets for head phones to spend the day at Rofl Recording Studios in Nottingham. Utilising our expertise in developing new technology solutions for retailers, our Merret team have also found their own special way of marking 15 years in retail by delving through the archives to create a record of the biggest retail technology breakthroughs since Retail Assist launched. In this fascinating ‘Fifteen years of firsts’ study we’ve charted how game changing retail and technology initiatives like Sainsbury’s Nectar card, ipads, self-service tills, chip and PIN, eReaders, smart phones, click & collect, Sunday delivery and social networks have transformed the way shoppers buy and retailers sell. Alan Morris, Executive Chairman comments: “A week is a long time in retail, so 15 years really has been an era of significant change within the retail landscape.  Whilst the core focus of retail businesses has remained constant over the last 15 years, it has been innovation in technology that has changed the way that consumers shop with retailers. New technology-led retail opportunities through online, mobile, social and TV will continue to transform the retail landscape sector, but we still need clever, talented and skilled people to harness the power of technology.  I’m really proud of what the Retail Assist team has helped achieve over the last 15 years and am excited about how they will contribute to the changing retail landscape of the future.”…
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international help desk support
  • 13 Apr 2014
Retail Assist equips Wandsworth Council to support staff working out-of-hours
April 2014: The specialist outsourced IT support operation provided by Retail Assist’s IT Help Desk, to Wandsworth London Borough Council, is now live. The Council contracted with Retail Assist last summer for an out-of-hours telephone service to support an increasing number of staff who work outside of normal hours, and need access to key systems.  The first phase of service rollout took place in July; the second and final phase took place in February 2014. As David Tidey, Head of IT & Business Communications for the Council explains: “Working practices have evolved over the past few years.  When we looked at the situation more closely, we realised a growing number of staff were working longer hours than just those spent in the office and therefore needed to access the systems they rely upon to do their job at any time and from any location. To facilitate this change, we looked at the resourcing of our help desk services.” “It was a challenge to get 24/7 coverage efficiently and cost-effectively using our own team, so we looked at other options,” continues Tidey.  In the course of his research, Tidey’s attention was caught by the work Retail Assist does for retailers in particular. “We could not help but be impressed by Retail Assist’s experience and scope of support operations across industries such as retail and hospitality.  It was clear they could provide precisely the skillsets and out-of-hours coverage we needed and do this more cost-effectively than our resourcing it internally,” he says. The Council’s strategic objectives for the project included improving the organisational structure and performance of this team by taking responsibility for the checking of critical systems; not just reacting to things going wrong.  At the same time, the Council has been able to redirect or restructure available resources to respond to critical system issues elsewhere. “The activities of the council do not stop at 5.30pm,” comments Tidey.  “With The Help Desk’s out-of-hours support to back them up, our staff now has round-the-clock access to critical systems to support the citizens within the local community.  Better IT support is helping our staff to provide a better service in the care of citizens in Wandsworth.” Dan Smith, Chief Executive Officer at Retail Assist, adds: “The out-of-hours service we provide encompasses a 1st line Help Desk, scheduled job checking and reporting, and network and server monitoring. In addition to supporting staff in their systems access and resolving any technical issues that come to light, we share the knowledge we get from our proactive monitoring. This intelligence helps us and Council IT staff to address any potential technical issues before they turn into problems.” For more information about Retail Assist’s Help Desk, click here.  …
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East Banner Image
  • 11 Feb 2014
East Change Direction to Embrace Omnichannel Retailing with Merret
Women’s fashion brand East has announced that it has selected Retail Assist’s 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 its 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. Merret is now also available as a Cloud based solution through its infrastructure partner Blue Chip; leaders in Cloud based computing technologies.  This will enable East to improve efficiency and reduce cost, providing a dynamically scalable solution. Having supported numerous retailers, Retail Assist is well positioned to facilitate East as they undergo a significant business change to position them for growth across all shopping channels. As part of the solution Retail Assist will be rolling out Triquestra UK’s Infinity EPOS system which will develop East’s ability to collect customer transactional data and further develop its click and collect functionality through its integration with Merret. “After rigorously reviewing the business requirements needed and what was available in the marketplace through a competitive tender process, it became apparent to us that Merret offers a powerful solution to help retailers deliver true omnichannel retailing,” commented Alison Lippiatt, Trading Director of East. “We needed to invest in an end to end system that would fulfil customer expectations by allowing them to shop through their channel of choice; Merret offered us this capability.”    Nigel Illingworth, CEO of Retail Assist’s Merret business, commented; “We are delighted that East has entrusted Retail Assist to support their new and exciting business venture. We’re proud to be playing our part in providing East with the solution for comprehensive multichannel commerce,” adding, “We’re looking forward to working in partnership with the East team to implement Merret and support the future growth of the brand.”…
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Morrisons nutmeg
  • 7 Jan 2014
Retail Assist and Morrisons shortlisted at the Retail Week Technology Awards
Retail Assist has once again checked out as a contender for another national industry award after being shortlisted for a prestigious Retail Week Technology Award.  Each year the Retail Week Technology Awards attract significant industry interest as they showcase the most exciting and innovative use of technology within the retail industry. Retail Assist has been specifically featured by the Retail Week Technology Awards for their work with Morrisons to support the launch of the supermarket’s brand new clothing line, Nutmeg.  Nutmeg chose Retail Assist’s Merret supply chain solution, and IT managed services  to provide Morrisons with the agility to respond to the requirements of fashion retailing, whilst integrating into the supermarket’s established IT, technology and business information systems. At the Retail Week Technology Awards, Retail Assist’s work with Morrisons will be lined up against Asda, asos, Crew Clothing, M&M Direct, Phones4U, Shop Direct, Tesco and TopShop who have all been shortlisted in the ‘Project of the Year’ category. Final winners in each of the awards sixteen categories will be revealed at a glitzy ceremony in London later on this year. This isn’t the first time that Retail Assist has achieved industry recognition following their major achievement of winning ‘Retail Supply Chain Excellence’ at last year’s Retail Week Technology Awards, together with scooping Nottingham Post Business of the Year and shortlisting at the Retail Week Awards. Alan Morris, Executive Chairman of Retail Assist comments, “We are proud that our work is achieving industry recognition and that we are  shortlisted for the highest levels of performance within retail technology.  The Retail Week Technology Awards are highly anticipated as they showcase technology initiatives that are at the leading edge of innovation in retailing.  Retailers know they need to stay relevant to their customers by responding to changes in consumer retail habits and emerging technology – these awards shine a spotlight on the retailers who are tapping into technology to connect with their consumers.”…
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