Posted by: Justine Arthur  |   Comments  No Response

What do you want, difficult challenges or beautiful problems?

If your answer is “neither, I’d prefer an easy life”, you’re probably not cut out for retail.

At last week’s BT Expedite and Fresca Retail Client Conference we had over 80 delegates from some of the UK’s (and the world’s) leading retailers lock themselves away for two days to get down to the real nitty-gritty of retail IT. It wasn’t for the faint-hearted.

This annual event is getting bigger – and better – every year. This year there were more retailer-led sessions, more technology demos and more user groups than ever before. We even had Kryten from Red Dwarf.

And there seems to be a little more optimism around again. We’re not completely out of the woods – it is retail we’re talking about here – but things are looking up.

Last year we gathered together like post-apocalyptic survivors, guiltily checking off the names of those who had gone under in the previous six months. We were in the midst of a massive economic downturn and all thought revolved around survival. So what’s changed?

Two things stood out: Social media and international expansion. It seems, like life, retail will always find a way.

The 40+ retailers who crammed into the first, steamy breakout session of the day highlighted this. During the session, Lyle & Scott’s Will Dymott outlined the brand’s website refresh and mobile focus, and ran through its social media strategy and successes. He presented himself as a bit out of touch with it all – drawing inspiration from the derision of his nieces – but it’s clear the success is no happy accident. Lyle & Scott has developed a ferociously loyal following – and there’s no great secret to it, as Will pointed out. If you’re going to get involved, get involved properly. So Lyle & Scott takes a very active part in their customers’ social networking. This takes in everything from organising Twitter races and underground music events to launching a Facebook commerce page.

More tips on launching a Facebook commerce page>

Designing for mobile e-commerce>

In the afternoon, another standing-room only session explored international expansion – with two retailers offering a different take on it. One, Aurora Fashions, has gone down the e-commerce route. The other, Aldo Group, is working through franchisees. Both have had successful years. Both have made mistakes – and have learned from them.

Five steps to successful international e-commerce>

And it was in this session that I heard about “a beautiful problem”. It summed up the whole mood at this year’s conference. And the nice thing is, we’re talking about the same old problems, but we’re looking at them in a different way. The world is no longer lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce out and crush you. We’re not automatically taking defensive measures. There’s a whole world of opportunity out there now – with no more difficult challenges, just lots of beautiful problems.

Posted by: BT Expedite  |   Comments  No Response

We’ve recently gone live with Whistles, our latest store services customer. For those unfamiliar with the world of fashion, Whistles is cutting edge, womenswear brand based in London that counts Kate Middleton among its customers. Whistles have 36 stores which trade using BT Expedites’ Store 6 POS supplemented by a successful e-commerce website from BT Fresca.

As part of the new service, we’re providing:

• First line store helpdesk
• 2-4th line standard support for Store 6
• Hosted card payment
• Hardware break-fix maintenance

We’re delighted that Whistles with BT Expedite and Retail Assist won The Project Implementation of the Year award at the Retail Week Technology awards on 14th June 2011.

We’re increasingly finding retailers asking us to take ownership of their store technology – helpdesk, hardware maintenance and networks as well as our Store 6 POS software. Often, we offer what we call BT Managed Store – a proactive service which involves our people running through daily checks of a retailer’s estate so that they can fix problems before they impact trading performance.

BT Managed Store customers include WH Smith, Primark, Mothercare & JJB Sports.

Read more about our managed services on our website

Posted by: Justine Arthur  |   Comments  No Response

As you are probably aware ;-) Britain is celebrating the 11-day Easter and Royal wedding holiday with a drinking and shopping spree some commentators have suggested may be worth a whopping £1.2bn to the economy.

I look after the support desk for our Store customers and they’ve kept us very busy in the run up to this critical trading period. Retailers are all different; some of our customers see the Bank holiday trading and the Royal Wedding as an opportunity for increased sales of bikes or camping equipment for those people wishing to get away from it all while the garden centres will see a huge uplift in bunting, flags and picnic ware. Some of our Fashion and Shoe retailers will be running promotions around Wedding attire and footwear, offering promotions on the wedding day to encourage people to shop for that special day themselves.

To ensure trouble free trading our customers make me and my team aware of all promotional activity well in advance and we make sure that the new price files get to the tills in good time to ensure the retailers have no issues during this busy time. We also monitor daily sales and ensure that transaction processing is flowing and that credit card sales are being taken correctly at the tills.

Retailing is always a competitive business and many will react to each other’s moves and frequently decide to go to sale or offer additional discounts to encourage better sales. We are here to ensure that all of these activities are supported and our clients have a trouble free and profitable trading period.

Julie Painter - Client Care Support Supervisor, BT Expedite

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