Retail-only solutions and services provider, Retail Assist, has revealed details of its relationship with a new client, airport retailer World Duty Free (WDF), who is using the company to provide a front-line IT Help Service to all its duty-free stores across the UK. The 24-hour Service Desk provides both 1st- and 2nd-level telephone support for a number of systems and applications.
For the Retail-J EPoS software, which is pivotal to the success of WDF’s operations, this includes round-the-clock, proactive monitoring of the architecture to maximise resilience and operating performance. Retail Assist provided consultancy on the Retail-J and Oracle environments, supported the JDA interface and coordinated partner activity.
The contract also encompasses support for the Sony digital signage hardware and software that is an integral part of WDF’s Heathrow Terminal 5 operation.
Adrian Frymann, Head of IT for WDF, describes how Retail Assist convinced his company that it was the right choice. ‘Retail Assist’s retail and technical understanding are second to none. Its staff combine real-life retail experience and technical skills. They have an excellent reputation for working with solution partners, and are very experienced in supporting both the Retail-J application and leading department stores such as Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.’
Last year, as part of its Improving Customer Experience (ICE) project, WDF decided to upgrade its EPoS system to a new-generation platform, which would deliver rapid customer service and enable fast-paced and transparent product replenishment.
Having chosen Retail-J, the retailer’s challenge was to roll out the system to its complete store estate: 57 World Duty Free-branded department and specialist stores totalling more than 250 tills, in 12 UK airport terminals. Rollout was completed within three months, which included the Easter peak trading period.
The project also addressed complexities such as controlling the sale of duty-free products, processing multi-currency transactions, Dynamic Currency Conversion and faster transaction times. Significant advancements were also made with the introduction of automated global flight lookup and electronic reading of boarding cards at the point-of-sale.
All of these elements were important in ensuring that time-constrained customers would be able to complete their purchases comfortably and quickly.
Adrian Frymann praises Retail Assist for rising to the challenge: ‘Close cooperation between project teams and total focus on the part of Retail Assist’s Support Services and Store Systems teams got the Support Desk up and running in 3 weeks. It was a great achievement.’
WDF started to enjoy real benefits from the earliest point. After only one month, there was a 53% reduction in 3rd-line support calls. Elimination of merchandising pricing issues and better communication between IT and Customer Service leaders have been two further positive outcomes of the new relationship.
Continues Frymann: ‘Retail Assist’s responsive service has resulted in the improved in-store customer experience that was the goal of our ICE project. Customers queue to check in, to pass through security and to board their plane. We were determined to play our part in achieving minimal queuing time whilst in our stores and to provide our customers with great service. That calls for exceptional systems backed up by faultless service. Together, WDF and Retail Assist staff are delivering that.’
World Duty Free is a leader in the UK travel retailing market. It operates shops at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Southampton. Until recently, its largest emporium was its 2,200 sq metres main store in Terminal 3 at Heathrow. This has now been overshadowed by Heathrow’s new Terminal 5 where World Duty Free occupies more than 2,600 sq metres of selling space.
The support service is managed by Dan Smith, Managed Services Director at Retail Assist. He explains: ‘As UK retailing continues to move towards a 24/365 trading model, the demand to provide extended hours of support to stores is on the increase. We have created a Service Desk which enables retailers to tap into an ‘all-hours’ retail and IT support desk, at a much lower cost of developing the same service in-house.’
Other retailers using Retail Assist’s extended hours of cover include the Thresher Group of 1,800+ off-licence outlets, an ‘out of hours’ Service Desk for all of Harvey Nichols’ department stores and restaurants, and first-line support to all stores and concessions worldwide operating under the many brands of the Mosaic Fashions group.