We're starting a new blog series to introduce our key partners; shining a light on what they do and how we work together. First up, meet Kevin Greathead, Managing Director at Retail Assist.
What’s your role with Retail Assist and what does this entail?
As Managing Director at Retail Assist, I’m responsible for overseeing Retail Assist’s growth, developing the business, directing and executing strategy with a team of talented individuals. It’s a very diverse role, I get to work closely with our clients, communicate with everyone across the company and make sure we’re always delivering on customer requirements.
I have worked within Retail Assist for over 22 years. Prior to my role as MD, I led the project services team for 16 years, working on a diverse range of projects such as implementing Merret, POS systems, warehousing systems and many technical upgrades, all within the retail and hospitality space. I then led our managed services division for 4 years before taking on the role of MD 18 months ago.
Tell us about Retail Assist – its history, services, and client base.
Retail Assist was formed in 1999, initially providing managed services to retailers including Adams Childrenswear, Principles and Warehouse. Following the acquisition of Merret eight years later, our growth really began to accelerate as we became a trusted outsourced partner for many retailers looking to move towards what would become omnichannel retail. Not only did those retailers need our award-winning software solutions, but also our technical and customer service offerings to support their businesses.
We are driven by helping our customers to deliver an outstanding customer experience, whether that’s through our IT managed services, such as our award-winning Help Desk, our specialist technical services, or through our end-to-end ERP solution, Merret.
With a strong retail background, we’ve developed our managed IT services and retail IT software solutions to support our international client base in the retail, leisure, hospitality, local authority and logistics sectors.
Retail Assist has won an impressive number of accolades over the years. Which one stands out the most and why?
We have been successful in winning awards and being recognised as a quality supplier within the IT services sector, specialising in retail and hospitality. These awards are won by our team, not individuals, that’s why I am most proud of Retail Assist being awarded the IT Service Provider of the Year at the itSMF Professional Service Management Awards 2021.
I’m especially proud of this award as we won it for our work during the pandemic. We continually evolved our offering and capabilities to meet challenging market conditions, helping customers adapt their IT strategies to be able to serve changing consumer needs and most importantly, survive.
This award is truly a representation of the hard work and commitment of our teams, their experience and the value of their relationships with our customers. We were able to keep up momentum and overcome many challenges over the last few years as a team, and this award really celebrates that.
Digital evolution is transforming how businesses operate. What are the biggest tech transformations you’ve seen in retail over the last few years and how is Retail Assist adapting to meet future needs?
The biggest transformation we’ve seen is how consumers use technology to carry out their retail journey. The days of static and expensive systems are gone, innovation is everything. The focus of technology is to enable retailers to be efficient, dynamic and fast-paced, responding to trends rapidly and providing a truly immersive experience regardless of the channel they wish to shop.
With mobile and social commerce seeing atomic growth and the resale market booming, it’s more crucial than ever for retailers to have a seamless and single, 360 view of stock, regardless of where it is in the supply chain. This ensures the customer can have the same experience regardless of the channel and can access your products on their terms.
Whether that’s buying from your Tik Tok shop and picking up the order at their closest store, or purchasing an out-of-stock product via a device in-store and having it delivered to a convenient locker at the local supermarket.
Our end-to-end supply chain solution, Merret, offers a single view of stock and maximises full-price sales by enabling retailers to seamlessly meet growing demand. We’ve adapted to the future needs of the market by offering integrations with other market-leading products, EPOS, 3PL partners, ecommerce and reporting solutions. This ensures retailers are able to offer customers more ways to engage seamlessly, maintaining brand consistency across the journey.
Our technical teams are also primed to lead digital transformation services, with skills to deliver systems on-premise, virtually, or move to the cloud, we’re geared up to provide customers with scalability that can flex to meet market demands, supported by our 24/7 service. We’re focused on taking away day-to-day tech problems so retailers can focus on retailing, establishing newer channels to market and exceeding consumer expectations.
The retail and hospitality sectors are facing complex and challenging market conditions. How do you see the future of the high street?
There’s a lot of negativity around the future of the high street, especially when we’re seeing closures in our towns and cities. However, I feel the high street is still crucial to the customer journey and the physical experience still plays a key role in making a sale.
Rather than completely closing stores, many retailers are relocating to areas with higher footfall and to spaces that offer them a space to showcase their products and offer an in-store experience.
Stores can also be used as fulfilment centres, offering inter-branch transfers and faster click-and-collect services; orders no longer need to be fulfilled from the distribution centre alone. This enables same-day deliveries and pick-up, meeting increasingly time-sensitive demands of consumers. The future of the high street should have a clear focus on meeting customer needs and introducing new retail experiences will help drive success.
Retail Assist and Datitude have worked together for many years. Tell us more about the partnership and what Datitude means to Retail Assist.
Datitude has enjoyed a successful collaborative relationship with Retail Assist over many years. We have known Sarah and Gavin since their e-commerce days and are still working together on some of the same clients over 15 years later.
Datitude provides bespoke business intelligence and data analytics solutions that tie in perfectly with our solution, Merret.
Data is extracted directly from Merret and analysed using Datitude’s platforms, the speed and flexibility of this approach is key to making timely and accurate decisions.
The value of data within today’s retail environment is unmatched and Datitude’s platform enables our customers to boost their data capabilities by offering an integrated and unified view. What separates Datitude from other service providers is their ability to understand the impact of the data retrieved, where the gaps are, and how to fulfil growing and diverse demands for data.
Thanks Kevin! It's always a pleasure working with the Retail Assist team. Find out more about Retail Assist and its award-winning technical services and retail tech solutions on its website.
Datitude works with a number of trusted partners and has inbuilt integrations for the most popular ecommerce, retail and martech systems (including Merret) as shown here.