Castle Malwood, Minstead – Hampshire. Thursday 13th July 2017

Thursday 13th July saw RMS host their 12th Annual User Forum and Awards Evening within the beautiful grounds of Castle Malwood, at the heart of the beautiful New Forest. In glorious sunshine, more than one hundred retailers and guests joined RMS to hear from leading industry speakers and keynote presentations from a number of RMS’ customers.

Starting the day with a warm welcome from Rob Morgan, alongside RMS’ Managing Director Karen Dyke, the day kicked off with all those in attendance taking the ‘RMS Forum Oath’, where all in attendance committed to enjoy, network and engage with the extended RMS family, have fun and partake in the hospitality and refreshments put on by the RMS team…something many did late into the evening (or should that be following morning!).

A short review by Karen of what happened during 2016 started proceedings which saw Unified Comms receive 6 major releases, 159 new features and 22 major new functions being added to the UC product suite over the past 12 months, including more recently the relaunch of Metro Mobile on which all delegates logged into during the day to see profiles of each speaker and interact with other delegates via Yapster. The People Suite of Metro (Workforce Management, Employee Management, T&A) also received 5 major release, with 149 new features and 16 major new functions added. Print Controller received a brand new UI along with major new functions including Promotional Planning, Enhanced Planogram integration, refined Task Integration and further enhancements to the Template Designer. It’s been a busy 12 months!

The first of four customer presentations came from Aurum Holdings, the UK’s biggest Watch and Jewellery retailer trading from well-known brands such as Goldsmiths, Mappin & Webb, Watches of Switzerland, Watch Shop, The WATCH Lab and Watch Hut. Sharing with the audience how their business is using Unified Comms to communicate with Multiple Brands effectively, Aron Simpson & Stacie Wood provided a textbook case study on how to launch Unified Comms successfully. Branded ONE, each login page leads onto a personalised homepage, depending on the brand the colleague works for – from here they can easily see messages, tasks and compliance with links to other resources at a click of a button. Since it’s launch, ONE is currently delivering 98% task compliance from retail teams across all brands and a 95% ‘read rate’ for all communications sent to retail teams across the business.

Fresh back from following the Lions Rugby Tour around New Zealand, our next speaker was Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director at Springboard. With 30 years’ experience in retail and retail property, Diane is regarded as one of the leading experts on the high street, retail destinations, retail intelligence, and insights and has an unparalleled knowledge and expertise in understanding current and emerging retail issues and trends. Updating the audience on trends within retail, Diane shared how online spending continues to increase and shared a fascinating insight into how, when and where retail shoppers are today shopping. All that along with the staggering fact that 90% of all the world’s data has been created since 2013, with 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created every day!!

Next up we heard from Claire’s Accessories where Michelle Hopkins and Sunita Ruprai explained how they have made trading internationally easier by using Metro Unified Comms – with the technology deployed across North America and much of Europe, the pace that the business has rolled out is as astonishing as its benefits – evident by the number of questions coming from the audience on how they did it! Since rolling out Claire’s ‘Hub’, the business has seen a marked reduction in communications to stores from DSM’s (the direct result of tasks being set on the spot reminders). Furthermore, there have been visible improvements in compliance (upwards of 90% and climbing) and significant reductions in print costs.

Our next speaker has been helping organisations use the internet since 1989 – Nick Dryden, CEO & Founder of Stahler took us through his journey from Network Engineer to music mogul to tech vendor explaining how ‘Pay by Finger’ came about after he once lost his trousers at a music festival leaving him hungover, thirsty and cashless! Pay by Finger started with BT & Hitachi in 2012, bringing finger payments to events and enabling guests to use their fingers to buy drinks at the VIP bar, from there the technology has attracted much interest and is seen as the natural evolution of payments allowing users to pay for shopping, access events, make secure payments, register bank cards with a finger, click and collect and much more.

Staying on the theme of emerging technology was RMS’s Tracey Fagan, taking guests through the future of Unified Comms which included a somewhat awkward conversation with Alexa but a glimpse nonetheless into some of the upcoming functionality planned for later this year! With a range of enhancements and new functionality scheduled, there is a distinct focus on clarity, simplicity and innovation driving the Unified Comms product roadmap. Attendees were able to experience some of this in the form of the new Mobile Dashboard where guests could log on, see speaker profiles, engage in chat conversations on Yap and vote for their favourite video of the day.

Post lunch, as is traditional at the User Forums, a bit of light relief came in the form of Messers Morgan and Mills which included guest appearances from a High Court Judge and an inflatable spreadsheet called Simon – beyond the fun and mirth, however, was a serious point – Retailers who use Spreadsheets to manage their ticketing data and promotions regularly make costly errors, something that was reinforced later by revisiting a secret meeting recorded in a bunker during WW2!

Following this up was Karen Dyke, to let those retailers embarrassed or affected by poor data management know there is a much easier way – by using Metro’s Print Controller to manage their data, digital and promotional signage. Metro Print Controller provides a full in-store portal for the creation and delivery of all styles of promotional print and signage. Acknowledged as the best print automation solution available today, Print Controller sets out to protect a retailer’s precious brand, drive sales and enhance customer trust and confidence – in this one module, every element a grown up retailer requires is available – and as a High Court Judge said earlier in the day, “Only the most backward retailer would consider using a Spreadsheet to drive their promotional pricing when there are proper grown up tools available to do the job properly”!

To round off our Promotional/Print related part of the day, our next guest speaker was renowned Shopper Psychologist, Phillip Adcock from Shopper Behaviour Explained Ltd. A leading authority on people’s behaviour, with more than 30 years of human behavioural research working in shopper & consumer analysis, he is now in the fortunate position of not giving a hoot what clients think and as a result, he tends to say it ‘as it is’. In other words, when psychologically crass decisions are made by brands and retailers, Phillip will point them out at whatever forum he is invited to. His knowledge, insight and experience can and will help generate serious increases in market share – he can also make you feel pretty damn stupid too, but to demonstrate what a corking good guy he is, he generously offered a free copy of his book to all those who attended – all they had to do was give him and his colleagues their email address!

We were thrilled to welcome Jenna Gonzales to the podium to talk through the ‘sins and delights’ of Social Media and why for SuperGroup employee engagement is so important. With 4,832 colleagues globally, the ability for SuperGroup to not just communicate but engage is key and their learnings invaluable –  ease of use, visual appeal, clear & concise content and language specific content are just a few of the benefits Metro Unified Comms is delivering with the result being increased employee satisfaction, better customer focus and an overall positivity from store teams.

Moving from the power of Social Media to People Power, Dunelm’s Kate Robins, Benn Nutt and Nicole Moir (ably assisted by Simon Mills from RMS), took the audience through an interactive demonstration of Metro’s People Management Solution, demonstrating how through the use of Metro’s Foundation, the ability to extend the capabilities of the solution is made so much easier thanks to its common elements and intuitive User Interface. A series of questions explained simply how the Employee, Workforce Management and T&A elements operate together culminating in the room signing on to the module and having a go themselves at viewing schedules and holiday requests.

With time pressing on, next up was Graham Clarke from Capita to explain how GDPR is going to impact retailers and organisations when the new regulation comes in to force. Graham has over 30 years of experience in multiple industries and heads a team who drive new business across Capita IT Professional Services. On a topic that he confesses is not one that lends itself naturally to humour, he shared with the audience how the latest General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will impact everyone, especially those involved in retail. GDPR will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018.

Concluding a packed day of speakers and customer engagement, it was our pleasure to introduce to the stage our final speaker of the day, Cathy McCabe, CEO & Founder of Retail Reimagined. Cathy has had the enormous privilege of spending over 25 years in a diverse retail career, working at leading retail brands such as WHSmith, Arcadia, Burberry and Jaeger. Having spent half her working life in retail operations and the other in technology – she loves shopping, thinks cash should be abolished and has recently fallen in love with Amazon’s Alexa! A relevant and pragmatic presentation covered the future of retail, what it used to be and how it is changing in-store, online and above all, rapidly. Covering topics ranging from what makes a great experience to what is innovation, it was a super way to round off our day!

Bringing the forum to a close, Karen Dyke shared the RMS vision for Metro and how the need for clarity, simplicity and innovation is driving RMS forward with a brief look at the enhancements customers can expect during 2017 including:

  • Unified Comms – Enhancements to the Mobile Home Page Designer, Interchangeable Widgets, New Dashboards, Voice Compliance, Metrogram, Journal Sales Data Feed, Notifications.
  • Process – Store Visits – Additional Reporting and enhancements to archiving, Accidents/Incidents – Enhanced reporting, KPI’s, Home Page Widgets, Workflow Enhancements, Ordering – improved budget management, approvals enhancements, additional reporting. Click & Collect – enhanced search, configurable statuses, multi-receipt orders, improved reporting.
  • People Suite – Absence managements, enhanced support of Lieu time, Vacancy Management, Smart Scheduling Standards, Online Training Wizard, Interchangeable Widgets, and the introduction of a new Payroll line!
  • Print Controller – Further extension of the DIM, Promotions Engine, Rules Engines and ability to support Electronic/Mobile print in the form of Coupons, Vouchers, Offers and E-Receipts.
  • Activity Planner – Complete face lift!

Fair to say, we covered a lot of ground – a terrific packed and informative day was had by all with more great stuff in the pipeline to celebrate at next years forum. Keep an eye out for the date to be confirmed soon and if you missed it this year, be sure to come along next!

Our sincere thanks to all our customer presenters, Aurim, Claire’s, SuperGroup and Dunelm, and also to our guest speakers from Springboard Research, Stahler, SBXL, Capita and Retail Reimagined, and everyone who helped make the event such a success.

Note: Customer presentations are available on request to those who attended the event – please email Rob Morgan direct to obtain copies.

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