Men take note – Whistles have launched a Menswear Collection

From soft structured blazers to canvas and leather backpacks – our customer, Whistles, have launched a menswear line. The collection has been launched just in time for AW14 and we can’t wait to check out the chunky knits and tailored trousers that will be perfect for the colder weather.

Below we have included some of our favourite looks from the new menswear collection, we hope you enjoy them.

W 1We love the leather ‘runners’ and tailored turn up trousers.

W2This chunky over coat and heavy roll neck will be staple pieces for the approaching winter weather.

W3We love this bright jumper and scarf combo, but are you man enough to wear pink?

W4This outfit is all about comfort but still screams style thanks to the Whistles minimal and simplistic approach.

I think the overall feel of the new collection is minimal and smart. The items are simple, but the collection is made up of key pieces that will see you through AW14. The menswear range heavily reflects the feel of the womenswear line, remaining contemporary, easy to wear, linked to classics, but with a modern approach.

We have been working with Whistles since 2011 helping to deliver an entire IT infrastructure. As part of a multi-faceted deal, Whistles selected our Merret merchandising and warehousing solution to power its new Distribution Centre managed by Clipper Logistics.

Our Merret application forms part of an integrated IT solution, and will drive the multichannel business forward through interfaces to Whistles’ BT Fresca ecommerce website, the upgraded BT Expedite Store6 EPoS solution in Whistles’ shops and store systems in multiple concession partners including Selfridges, Brown Thomas, Fenwicks, House of Fraser and John Lewis.

With multiple concession partners, standalone stores and their multichannel offering there are numerous platforms for which Whistles can display their new menswear collection. Jane Shepherdson, CEO of Whistles commented on the range, saying;

‘We have defined our aesthetic, and achieved a consistency in our design. Menswear is something that we have been planning to do since we started in 2008. We recognise that, as with womenswear there is considerable expansion in the contemporary middle market, this is an ideal time to capitalise on this opportunity and bring the whistles aesthetic to menswear.’

The menswear range is now available to buy online, within key stores and selected premium department stores. Click here to shop now.

If you would like any further information about any of our services then you can visit our website: www.retail-assist.co.uk or call us on: +44 (0) 115 853 3910. You can also search for us on Twitter and Instagram for all the latest news from Retail Assist.

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Travel Hubs – Where Expansion Plans take Flight

PlaneOver the past few years travel destinations have begun to change and the term ‘travel hub’ has started to emerge. Now no longer a place of boredom and unappetising food, transport environments are cottoning on to the fact that they have a captive audience with time and ‘holiday’ money to spend.

High footfall from international and often affluent travellers means airports and other major ‘travel hubs’ provide a unique environment for retailers and can act as a useful trail space for new ideas and concepts, reaching consumers both at home and overseas.

Airports, for example, deliver the highest sales densities of any shopping environment due to strong footfall from an international, cash-rich, captive audience, who want to kill time and often splash out on impulse. Retailers are increasingly realising the importance of engaging travel shoppers – with 85% of visitors to Gatwick Airport buying something, it’s worth making the effort to entice travellers.

For retailers with international aspirations, a ‘travel hub’ store can build brand awareness, drive website traffic, as well as test products with an overseas customer base. The insight gained is extremely valuable as it can be fed into future expansion decisions.

Retailers have also become aware of the convenience factor at transport hubs. Several of them have launched click-and-collect services that allow consumers to collect orders at train and tube stations.

The global airport market is forecast to reach £36.6 billion by 2019, a growth of 72.9% on 2013 figures. A number of our customers, including; Paperchase, Whistles, Cath Kidston, Morrisons and World Duty Free are taking advantage of this additional selling space, with outlets popping up in airports and train stations.

However there are challenges when expanding in to travel hubs, including; out of hours IT support, international language barriers, and the ability to deliver a ‘click and collect’ offering. However with the correct service in place you can expand smoothly and easily in to these environments.

Travel retail may previously have been seen as an afterthought by retailers, but it is quickly becoming central to many retailers strategies. Consumers now want and are beginning to expect an all singing all dancing retail and social experience when visiting travel destinations and we can help you deliver on this.

Our Ra-X solution can help with international barriers, and has recently helped one of our customers, Cath Kidston, their 100th international store. Ra-X manages the two-way global data exchange between Cath Kidston’s Head Office and overseas partners, sending and receiving product, price, promotion and sales data from store concessions or international locations back to central operations.

CKFurthermore our Merret supply chain solution also aids with international expansion, covering all aspects of stock control, retail supply and business information. Presented in a multi-lingual, multi-country environment, Merret provides definable, multi-dimensional business structures to manage the unique complexities of your buying and merchandising activity for national and international retailing, whether it be a high street multiple, department store, discount outlet, airport, concession, franchise, on-line or ‘travel hub’ store. For more information on our Merret supply chain please click here.

This alongside our Help Desk Support, which facilitates an international offering, fluent in 8 languages, and supports you IT systems 24x7x365 means that you will be able to deliver a seamless and consistent offering to your ‘travel hub’ customers around the clock.

If you would like any further information about any of our services then you can visit our website: www.retail-assist.co.uk or call us on: +44 (0) 115 853 3910. You can also search for us on Twitter and Instagram for all the latest news from Retail Assist.

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Hobbycraft for Wedding Decorations – Guest Blog

Here at Retail Assist we are very pleased to welcome back our guest blogger Charlie. After her two previous and very successful blogs, we were delighted when she offered to blog for us for a third time.

Having previously blogged about finding the prefect bridesmaid dresses from Coast and must have wedding stationary from Paperchase, Charlie is back and this time talking about wedding decorations from our customer Hobbycraft. To read more of Charlie’s ‘Dainty Bride’ blogs visit her page by clicking here.

I’ve always thought that decorations can make or break a wedding. Choose something to reflect your personality, keeping the concept both personal and in keeping with the overall theme of your special day and the results will leave your guests amazed. Finishing touches are key to the overall effect of your decorations, you can go for a co-ordinated theme or a miss matched effect, whatever your style there are decorations out there to suit you and your groom.

I’ve recently started looking into different decorations and have been amazed with what Hobbycraft have to offer. I’m not really a ‘crafty’ person so hadn’t previously visited Hobbycraft but since I’ve been engaged, it’s my new favourite place! I’ll definitely continue going post wedding; I have seriously been bitten by the ‘crafting’ bug.

The good thing about Hobbycraft is that you can recreate amazing ideas that you’ve found on the internet or in magazines for a fraction of the price.

They have a ‘Wedding’ section online if you don’t fancy searching the shop, offering everything from Hen Party Supplies to Wedding Cake Decorations. All of their wedding items are listed together, very handy, and perfect for us lazy brides or those on a tight timescale.

Right so let’s get started…

Although this may look like a ‘Plain Metal Bucket’, (which it is) it’s so multi-functional, and at £1 each they’re a total bargain.

You can:

1. Use them as centre pieces by adding some lace around the outside and adding flowers inside.

2. Pop wedding favours in them for your guests.

3. They also provide a lovely way in which to store your confetti.

These are just a few suggestions, it’s up to you to get creative and make your wedding truly individual.

Blog 1This ‘Wedding Post Box Birdcage’ is perfect for all you vintage lovers out there. Not only providing an alternative to the usual style of wedding ‘post box’, this is a delicate and pretty alternative and can even be personalised with space to write your new surname on the front.

Blog 2I feel there’s a ‘bucket’ theme starting here…

These tiny buckets are amazing! You can get them in a variety of colours and are also available with heart and butterfly cut-outs. A perfect size for tea lights, they will look gorgeous in the evening when the main lights are turned down. Again at only £1 they definitely won’t blow the budget.

Blog 3Who doesn’t love a bit of bunting? Again, like the mini buckets, they have a variety of colours and patterns available. Bunting is good to add to a large empty wall or even draped along the front of your top table.

Blog 4Wicker hearts can be such a versatile decoration, hook them onto the aisle chairs/pews where the ceremony is taking place, even accessorising them with ribbon in a colour to match your scheme. You could link a few together to make you own unique bunting, or even give them to your guests as wedding favours.

Blog 5Dream of a photo booth but can’t quite squeeze it into the budget? These props are just what you need to create your own. Find a room where it’s a little quieter, leave these props and a camera and wait and see what happens!!!

Blog 6Signage is so important at a wedding and these blackboard signs are a great wedding staple. With their versatile nature they can be re-used and act as signs for everything from pointing guests to brides side/grooms side at the church to directions to the wedding breakfast the next morning. These little signs could not only save you time and money but also undue stress on the big day, confident in the knowledge that all your guests will easily be able to navigate around the venue.

Blog 7…And there you have it! I have however merely scraped the surface on what Hobbycraft have to offer so make sure you pay them a visit for yourself!!

Thank you for reading

Love,

Dainty Bride xx

Thank you Charlie for your latest instalment, not only does this give everyone a great idea of what Hobbycraft have to offer but also gives readers some really great decoration ideas for their own big day.

Whilst on the subject of Hobbycraft there is still time to take part in the #BigPoppyKnit, the aim of which is to make 11,000 poppies to mark each of the 11,000 Nottinghamshire men who died during the Great War. If you fancy getting involved all poppies need to be donated to the Poppy Appeal by the 22nd October 2014. To read more click here.

If you are interested in our services then visit our website at: www.retail-assist.co.uk. You can contact us via email: info@retail-assist.co.uk or call us on: +44 (0) 115 853 3910, you can also search ‘RetailAssist’ on Twitter and Instagram, just make sure you hashtag #BigPoppyKnit when posting any pictures of your knitted poppies.

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Technology Brings Shopping in Store and in Hand

Blog 1Technology is transforming the in-store shopping experience and giving retailers extra efficiencies that help deliver increased operational effectiveness and better customer service.

With shoppers relying more on smartphones, tablets and with advances in online shopping, the traditional high street is sometimes considered to be on its way out, but canny retailers are using technology to breathe new life in to their stores. Technology cuts both ways and connectivity has provided retailers and brand owners with new and exciting opportunities to re-engage customers.

Retailing giants like John Lewis and Marks and Spencer’s through to fashion retailers like Coast and Oasis have switched onto the idea that using tablet devices on the shop floor can improve communication and collaboration between staff and customers – quickly becoming an integral part of retailers operating strategies.

Blog 2The developments in supply chain technology are also enabling brands, such as our customer, East to enable their stores to become retailing ‘hubs’, providing them with the ability to take orders from the web and dispatch them to the customer, or provide ‘click and collect’ functionality, meaning that the warehouse is no longer the central point for stock management. The advances in technology are enabling each location to provide a stock pool to offer the most convenience to the customer. Read more about how we helped our latest customer East.

Blog 3With technology driving demands to provide real time information, ensuring you have a central stock pool in place, such as Retail Assist’s Merret supply chain solution becomes vital.

From a consumer point of view, tablets on the shop floor enable retail staff to carry out multi-functional tasks. Tablet based applications are providing retailers with the means to check store inventory and manage stock control, whilst also having the ability to provide a more personalised service – taking the point of sale to the customer.

This change in technology has meant that consumers increasingly expect convenience, speed and choice as standard. With employees having access to real time product information across multiple channels, they can improve sales by sourcing out of stock items, generating increased interaction with their customer base, helping to establish brand loyalty and future sales.

Embracing omnichannel, joining up the customer experience across all channels, not separating it across individual ones has to be seamless. Smart brands are looking to re-engineer the experience in a way that puts the shopper at the centre of the equation. Argos for example is ditching its laminated catalogues in new stores for iPads, easy navigation, fast-track collection and free Wi-Fi. But stores remain important, in particular making it easier for shoppers to collect purchases within a few hours of buying online.

The warning, however, is that technology is only a great experience when it works, but when it does the opportunities are abound. The winners in the future will be those who can build an experience that takes the best from both digital and physical retailing.

If you would like any further information about our Merret supply chain solution then you can visit our website: http://www.merret.com/home or call us on: +44 (0) 115 853 3910. We are also on Twitter and Instagram, just search Retail Assist to see all the latest news and updates.

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High Tech High Street

Omnichannel ShoppingOmnichannel retailing has revolutionised the retail sector, enabling consumers to research and shop at their convenience; anytime, anywhere via any device. As consumers embrace these new technologies the shopping experience is becoming increasingly sophisticated as customers are coming armed with brand knowledge and the ability to research and shop around. But how do traditional stores fit in to this new online world, and cater to the demands of customers who expect to be able to shop from the comfort of their own sofas?

With this in mind, should retailers simply pack up and focus purely on an eCommerce offering? Or should they adapt and fight back? We think that the role of the physical store still plays an integral part in the overall omnichannel offering, but retailers need to understand the ‘traditional’ store is no longer just about having a physical presence, but a joined up approach.

Last week we helped our customer, East, gain some great coverage in the Daily Telegraph, in a feature sponsored by EE. The piece focused on developments within omnichannel retailing, and how physical stores must adapt in order to remain a fundamental component in the shopping journey. East have recently made such a change, by implementing our Merret solution they can now provide a complete end-to-end omnichannel offering to their customers.

East - Daily Telegraph 1Merret is our supply chain solution that can support retailers through the complexities of omnichannel retailing, ensuring they remain a relevant part of the shopping journey. Designed for today’s omnichannel world, with a complete end-to-end solution Merret lets the customer choose how, when and where they want to shop, delivering a seamless and consistent experience across multiple devices – ideal for the current growth in omnichannel platforms.

East are our latest customer to implement the Merret solution and they are already seeing the benefits. With a single stock pool East have total visibility and control of stock, which is available via any channel, regardless of geographical location, so can help drive future international expansion. Their omnichannel approach delivers a convenient shopping experience allowing customers to shop anytime, anywhere from any device. Suzi Spink, CEO of East comments;

“It’s like that Martini slogan, anytime, anyplace, anywhere.”

Retailers need to be able to offer their customers an end-to-end omnichannel experience, not just aspects of it. Customers want and expect a consistent and seamless experience across all channels and if brands don’t deliver they will simply go elsewhere. This isn’t just a matter however of improving the online aspect of the store but matching this with an improved in store experience. We help East cater to this demand with the provision of click-and-collect, giving customers another reason to visit the physical store.

Click-and-collect helps cater to the increasing demands of customers who are no longer prepared to wait for deliveries, items are expected immediately and this push towards ‘click-and-collect’ has ultimately driven consumers back in to ‘bricks and mortar’ stores.

Even with developments in technology revolutionising the way we shop, the ‘bricks and mortar’ store is still a crucial link in the omnichannel chain. Providing not only a physical touch point the store forms part of a ‘social hub’ becoming part of an experience that will ensure that stores remain an integral part of the retail journey, and an extension to the omnichannel approach. A successful omnichannel strategy can drive footfall in to stores and increase brand awareness but channels need to be united enabling consumers to shop the brand not just individual channels.

If you would like any further information about our Merret supply chain solution then you can visit our website: http://www.merret.com/home or call us on: +44 (0) 115 853 3910. We are also on Twitter and Instagram, just search Retail Assist to see all the latest news and updates.

Please follow the link below to see East’s full coverage in the Daily Telegraph:

Daily Telegraph East Feature PDF

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Hobbycraft and the #BigPoppyKnit

Poppy 1In 1918 on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the 1st World War ended.

People wanted to remember those who had given their lives for peace and freedom. Moina Michael, an American War Secretary, inspired by John McCrae’s poem, ‘In Flanders’ Fields’, began selling poppies to friends to raise money for the ex-Service community. This is how the ‘poppy’ tradition began, with each poppy helping to support the British Armed Forces past and present, and their families.

The remembrance poppies have evolved over the years, made from different materials and worn in different ways, and this year has been no exception.

Our customer, Hobbycraft, hosted an event with their resident knitters; gathering together to take part in the Poppy appeals ‘Big Knit’. The aim of the ‘Big Poppy Knit’ is to make 11,000 poppies to mark each of the 11,000 Nottinghamshire men who died during the Great War. With our head office located in Nottingham we thought it was only right that we go down and get involved – every poppy counts.

Poppy 2As amateur knitters it was a challenge for us at Retail Assist to contribute but with the simple knitting patterns provided by BBC Nottingham we were able to donate to the cause. You can see our efforts below:

Poppy 3On the day there were lots of ladies either knitting or crocheting poppies and we had great fun in making black pompoms for the centre of the poppies – as I said we are amateur knitters so our talents were better suited to pompom making.

Poppy 4Whether you knit one or one hundred poppies, you will be commemorating those who lost their lives in WW1. Get knitting or crocheting now and donate your poppies for this amazing cause.Poppy 5We have included the knitting and crochet patterns below, so you can have a go for yourself – check out YouTube for some easy knitting tutorials:

Knitted Poppies
For the best finish, knit with a Double Knit (DK yarn). The size of needle you choose will determine how big the poppy will be, but we recommend 3.5mm or 3.75mm (UK9).

1. Easy garter/knit stitch pattern for beginners
Colour A Red (one ball will make a lot of poppies!)
Colour B Scrap of Black or a black button

Body of Poppy
Using Col A cast on 120 stitches.
Rows 1-4 Knit
Row 5 Knit 3 stiches together across the row(40 stiches)
Rows 6-9Knit
Row 10 Knit 2 stitches together across the row(20 stitches)
Rows 11-14 Knit
Row 15 Knit 2 stitches together across the row(10 stitches)
Cut yarn leaving a tail of about 20cm
Thread tail through yarn needle and slip all the remaining live stitches onto the yarn tail and pull tight. Pull around into a circle and then mattress stitch (or use whatever stitching you normally use) to seam for an invisible seam. Sew in ends.

Centre of Poppy
Using B, cast on 16 sts. Cast off. Coil into a tight spiral and sew base to the centre.
Or use a black or green button with 4 holes and sew to centre of poppy. Add pin.

2. Easy ribbed poppy pattern
Colour A 1 ball red yarn (this will make a lot of poppies)
Colour B Scrap of black yarn or black button

Body of Poppy
Using Col A Cast on 60 stitches
Row s1 –10 : K2, P2 across whole row(for a slightly smaller poppy do 8 rows of rib).
Row 11 : Knit 2 stitches together across the row (30 stitches).
Row 12 : Slip 1 stitch, Knit 2 stitches together then pass the slip stitch over… repeat across the whole row (10 stitches).
Break off yarn with long tail and thread back through remaining stitches and pull tight. Join edges with mattress stitch

Centre of Poppy
Using B, cast on 16 sts. Cast off. Coil into a tight spiral and sew base to the centre.
Or use a black or green button with 4 holes and sew to centre of poppy. Add pin.

Crocheted Poppies
You will need some red wool and a black button.

1. Three petal crochet poppy with 4.5mm hook
Ch 3, join with slst to form circle.
Ch 3, work 9 dc into the centre of the circle and join with slst.
Work the three petals separately.
Petal 1.
Ch 3, work 1st dc into same st, work 2 dc into each of the next 3 sts.
ch 1 work 2 sc into each st, tie off.
Petal 2.
work 2 dc into last dc of previous petal, work 2 dc into each of the next 3 sts.
ch 1 work 2 sc into each st, tie off.
Work petal 3 as 2.
Sew all ends in and attach button in the centre. Add pin

2.Two petal crochet poppy
Rnd 1: With 3mm hook and wool, ch2. Make 10dc in 2nd ch from hook. Join with a slst in 1st dc. (10sts)
Rnd 2: *ch1 dc ch1 2tr in next st, 3tr in next st, 2tr ch1 dc in next st, slst in next 2sts. rep from * once again.
Rnd 3: *ch1 3dc in next 2 sts, 2dc in next 5sts, 3dc in next 2 sts,slst in next 2sts. rep from * once again. Fasten off.
Attach button in the centre. Add pin.

Stitch explanation st(s) = stitch (es)
ch = chain rep=repeat
dc = double crochet rnd=round
htr = half treble crochet slst = slip stitch
r = row tr = treble crochet

Send or bring your finished poppies to:
BBC Radio Nottingham
London Road
Nottingham
NG2 4UU

All poppies will be donated to the Poppy Appeal , make sure you get your poppies in by the 22nd October 2014.

…And don’t forget to wear your poppy with pride.

If you are interested in our services then visit our website at: www.retail-assist.co.uk. You can contact us via email: info@retail-assist.co.uk or call us on: +44 (0) 115 853 3910, you can also search ‘RetailAssist’ on Twitter and Instagram, just make sure you hashtag #BigPoppyKnit when posting any pictures of your knitted poppies.

 

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Popcorn at the Ready as Vue Renew Contract with Retail Assist

VUE STIRLING 0042Vue Entertainment, one of the UK’s largest cinema chains, has once again turned to us to provide IT support across its 82-strong international cinema estate through the renewal of their contract for a further 5 years.

We have been working with Vue 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.

We will be responsible for management of user support and technical service management in Vue’s head office and across the entire 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. We 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.”

We have 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 we can provide Vue in terms of knowledge and experience have helped to secure this 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 us 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 delivery of our brand experience. Vue Entertainment’s growth over the last few years has in turn increased the scale of our IT infrastructure; however Retail Assist has continued to keep incident rates and call times down, which was a major factor for renewing the contract.”

If you are interested in our services and how we could help you facilitate any international expansion plans the visit our website: www.retail-assist.co.uk or contact us via email: info@retail-assist.co.uk or telephone: +44 (0) 115 853 3910. You can also search for us on Twitter and Instagram for all the latest news from Retail Assist.

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A Click Away from International Expansion

Green GlobeCross border online trade is growing fast, currently estimated to be worth over $100bn annually, and this figure is set to triple by 2018. IMRG predicts that by 2020 cross border sales will soar to a third of all online trade worldwide, and despite the current economic situation the European online market continues to go from strength to strength.

International retail allows retailers to open themselves up to new territories and further profit. But what are the challenges faced when thinking about expanding internationally and how can you combat them?

Understanding local shopping culture is a massive factor in planning an international move as it is crucial to get a gauge on how the market is developing and how to accurately target it. Understanding new market culture allows not only smoother transition between channels but also contributes to the delivery of a more personalised shopping experience, as this is something which is expected world-wide. However this adds additional complications in to the already intricate transition of international retailing, with differing time zones, currencies, weather and changing seasons to take in to account.

The internet plays an important role in branching out overseas, offering a diverse cross channel experience. Brands need to be able to mould themselves and adapt to ever changing and increasing customer demands, from making collection and delivery more convenient, offering multiple language options and providing the digital experience in bricks and mortar stores, just to name a few. Retailers who have the ability to support customers who shop anytime, anywhere and on any device internationally are in a good position to take a share of the international rewards on offer.

UK retailers have been quick to embrace the international opportunity with online exports projected to increase by 26% year-on-year; whilst retail exports are presently growing at 9%. Research from Google and OC&C Strategy Consultants suggests that Britain is the world’s most successful cross-border internet trader. The most successful UK companies that trade internationally often establish themselves in the UK, expanding to English speaking countries and then moving outwards to European and word-wide markets, where they have to tackle differing currencies, languages and times-zones.

Omnichannel retailing helps retailers pursue new and untapped opportunities in foreign markets, growing their business and capturing new sales. With the growth in technology and number of devices that allow consumers access to the internet, geographical barriers are reduced, opening up new markets to both retailers and consumers. Cross border shoppers form part of a very attractive demographic as they are well-educated and experienced online shoppers with a high disposable income who tend to outspend domestic shoppers across a number of categories, found Forrester. Retailers need to embrace omnichannel to join up their international sales channels providing a seamless experience for increasingly nimble cross-channel consumers.

Cath Kidston StoreWe can help with the challenges faced when undertaking international expansion and have recently seen our Ra-X customer, Cath Kidston, open their 100th international store. Ra-X manages the two-way global data exchange between Cath Kidston’s Head Office and overseas partners, sending and receiving product, price, promotion and sales data from store concessions or international locations back to central operations. To find out more about our Ra-X solution please click here.

Furthermore our Merret supply chain solution also aids with international expansion, covering all aspects of stock control, retail supply and business information. Presented in a multi-lingual, multi-country environment, Merret provides definable, multi-dimensional business structures to manage the unique complexities of your buying and merchandising activity for national and international retailing, whether it be a high street multiple, department store, discount outlet, airport, concession, franchise, on-line or catalogue. For more information on our Merret supply chain please click here.

If you would like any further information about any of our services then you can visit our website: www.retail-assist.co.uk or call us on: +44 (0) 115 853 3910. You can also search for us on Twitter and Instagram for all the latest news from Retail Assist.

 

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M-Commerce – Part of your Omnichannel Journey

MobM-Commerce is not only influencing a consumer at the point of sale, but bringing the point of sale to the consumer. The proportion of consumers buying goods via a mobile device has also soared world-wide, from 10% in 2008 to 28% in 2010. Research via IMRG & Capgemini shows that sales via mobile devices was up 138% in 2013, with these sales accounting for 30% off the total online retail spend. By 2015 a mobile device is sure to be part of every omnichannel shopping journey, with mobile sales accounting for 40% of the overall turnover by 2020.

Today M-Commerce encourages people to browse items because it’s easy, can be done at anytime and anywhere. Statistics in Retail Week revealed that nearly 20% of people who browse, end up buying, therefore the M-Commerce journey needs to be a simple one.

There  are now more than 17million UK shoppers now making purchases via smartphones, with this popularity in mobile devices now having changed the way consumers research, browse, buy, and transact online. People are becoming increasingly impatient, which has also had a direct impact on ‘click-and-collect’. Customers aren’t prepared to wait for deliveries, they want their items immediately and this push towards ‘click-and-collect’ has ultimately driven consumers back in to ‘bricks and mortar’ stores.

With barcode scanning, QR codes, location based services, ‘check ins’ and coupons supported by mobile devices it can open up lots more opportunities for brands in terms of marketing, merchandising and customer acquisition campaigns – with more customer touch points, comes further sales as a result of direct engagement over numerous channels.

This growth in M-Commerce has meant that shoppers increasingly expect convenience speed and choice as standard. Mobile devices need to cater to these demands, with optimised content, offering quick and simple presentation and navigation. Retailers therefore have to take a fresh look at their operation to keep up with customer demands, often designing the customer approach with one that thinks about the mobile journey first.

However the mobile journey doesn’t just stop with customers. It is one which is becoming more and more part of retailers operating strategies. Therefore, with current demands to provide real time stock availability, ensuring you have a central stock pool becomes critical.

Our supply chain solution Merret has been designed and constructed for today’s omnichannel world, with a complete end-to-end solution letting the customer choose how, when and where they want to shop. This provides the customer with a seamless and consistent experience across multiple devices – ideal for the current growth in M-Commerce platforms.

If you would like more information about our Merret supply chain then please visit our website: http://www.retail-assist.co.uk/merret-supply-chain/. You can also email us on: info@retail-assist.co.uk or call us on: +44 (0) 115 853 3910

 

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Keep Customers at the Centre of your Business with an Omnichannel Loyalty Programme

BFor retailers, the balancing act between keeping up with the ever increasing demands of consumers and providing a personalised service is becoming harder and harder. Customers want the whole package – so how will you give it to them?

To keep customer returning you need to implement an approach which ensures you are consistent and seamless across all platforms. With 63% of consumers using multiple channels when spending over £100, research shows that on average omnichannel shoppers spend more. Retailers need to use this to their advantage, exploring and implementing customer-focused, omnichannel capabilities to meet these evolving expectations and needs.

With increased personalisation and technological advances, customers have come to expect retailers to know who they are, what they purchased, and their preferences for interaction, but to not go so far as to invade their privacy and sense of security.

There is an expectation to connect not only with retailers seamlessly across channels, but also via personalised communications and targeted offers. A study by the ‘Cognizant Shopper’ found that the top three personalisation factors that influence purchase behaviour are;

  • Special treatment based on loyalty
  • Acknowledgement of status
  • Personalised offers

A successful omnichannel loyalty program needs to have the ability to deliver on all these expectations, engaging customers at the right time, in the right place, through the right channel, with the right message. With research finding that 35% of consumers believing that loyalty schemes do in fact keep them loyal to that brand; it’s time to start getting omnichannel loyalty plans in place.

When executed correctly, an omnichannel loyalty program can help identify customers, connect online and offline data to better understand purchase behaviour, deliver timely and relevant experiences, and motivate and reward customers for key behaviours that ultimately drive sales.

Omnichannel loyalty is crucial for retailers for a variety of reasons; engaged customers are 23% more profitable says Gallus research and Corra’s ‘Ecommerce’ research found around 80% of Americans indicate they are more likely to become loyal to retailers who provide a seamless shopping experience across devices. A retailer with a robust loyalty programme in place means that consumers are more likely to shop with that retailer, due to trust and uniformity within the brand as a whole, with omnichannel loyalty programmes driving preference.

Improving customer experience should be at the top of most major retailer’s lists. However, in a Forrester study only 37% of companies listed customer engagement as one of the top business objectives for loyalty campaigns.

Omnichannel loyalty remedies this problem by placing customer engagement much higher on the priority list. With the current trends in place, this will undoubtedly continue as a response to customer expectations and buying behaviour. Omnichannel loyalty is indeed all about delivering the right message at the right time in the right way across the channels the customer chooses.

  • Don’t take more information than is necessary. Stick to the basics, don’t ask customers lots of questions producing data that ultimately you won’t use and that will put them off providing.
  • Don’t over promote and under deliver – don’t promise anything you can’t achieve.
  • Ensure that any rewards scheme that’s put in place is measurable.
  • Move away from paper vouchers, not only are they easier to copy but consumers are now conducting much of their time via mobile devices and expect to be able to perform most tasks via their device.
  • Monitor your data real time and respond immediately when issues arise. Customers operate 24×7 so you should to.
  • Enable loyalty functionality such as enrolment, accrual and redemption across all channels.
  • Reward customers for shopper activity that go beyond purchase alone (such as social interactions).
  • Stay connected with customers through social media, local and mobile technologies.
  • Ensure a seamless experience and consistency across all loyalty interactions.
  • Make loyalty offers and communication relevant and compelling through sophisticated use of data.

Retailers must ensure they are focusing on strategic goals when implementing an omnichannel loyalty program. Although new technology and tactics are required, especially when it comes to the collection and use of data, the fundamental goals and resulting benefits of effective loyalty programs are unchanged. Through a unified view of the customer, retailers can deliver unique messaging in the most cost-effective way, improving profitability and competitiveness.

If you are interested in our services then please visit our website: www.retail-assist.co.uk or contact us via email: info@retail-assist.co.uk or telephone: +44 (0) 115 853 3910.

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