IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

  • 10 Feb 2007

Retail Assist launches Ra-X

Retail Assist news

Retail IT outsourcing company, Retail Assist, has launched a new specialist offering directed at multi-channel retailers. Branded Ra-X (Retail Assist Exchange), it offers a fully-managed data exchange, retail communications and polling service.

Explains Retail Assist Managing Director, Alan Morris: “Seamless and reliable data exchange, with polling perhaps its most vital element, is essential in retail. The data produced needs to be timely and accurate. With multi-channel retailing on the increase, the provision of consistent and reliable data right across the business has now become mission-critical.”

The company’s experience with its retailer client base reveals a growing support burden created by a bewildering array of incompatible file formats from EPoS, stock, merchandising and other systems. Data generated by interface programs is often slow to be produced, of poor quality, and has limited value in reflecting true business performance.

Multi-channel distribution and working with partners are becoming favoured trading models. Whether developing an online presence, extending a store estate, buying new brands or expanding a network of concessions and franchises, retailers are finding data exchange a considerable headache if they have to develop and maintain multiple interfaces.

Adds Morris: “Even for retailers with a polling solution, this will typically only look after principal store relationships. Other operations, whilst representing a significant proportion of sales, may be supported only by a ‘glue and paper’ approach.”

Having already provided data exchange and polling as a bespoke service to a number of clients including Mosaic Fashions, Warehouse, Principles and Blacks, Retail Assist could see the benefit of making this more widely available.

“It’s all about repeatability,” says Morris. “We can offer economies of scale and we know how to manage risk and reduce costs.”

The company is targeting its new Ra-X solution at established, new and expanding businesses. Describing it as “far more than a simple point-to-point solution”, it guarantees to provide data on which retailers can base faster decisions and better stock replenishment.

Continues Alan Morris: “Ra-X is the most reliable and secure way for retailers to exchange data with all their trading partners, including overseas operations, regardless of file formats and transfer mechanisms. Strict service level agreements give our clients peace of mind and result in an improved polling rate. We typically achieve 96%+, compared to 90% when this function is run in-house.”

The Ra-X service is run from Retail Assist’s Northampton Data Centre, a secure, environmentally-controlled facility with 24/365 monitoring, full backup and disaster recovery. The service is fully scalable, and able to handle rising volumes of data and the needs of fast-growing retail businesses.

Opting for Ra-X as a managed service means that retailers are not faced with capital outlay, hardware or software costs, or the need to increase IT headcount. Set-up is fast and easy, with a fixed charge being made for data translation services, followed by an agreed annual cost for maintenance. As pricing is based on a charge per interface, rather than on a charge per store, the setting up of additional outlets or concessions at other sites for the same retail company does not lead to increased costs.

Concludes Morris: “Importantly, Ra-X manages all channels, giving each the same importance, and makes sure that critical data is produced across the whole business.”

To help identify the strengths and weaknesses of current arrangements, Retail Assist is offering a complimentary half-day audit to businesses that are looking to make polling and data exchange faster and more accurate.

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