IRUK 500 Strategy and Innovation Report 2015

We’re focused on the intangible, as strategy and innovation take centre stage in this latest IRUK Top500 Performance Dimension Report. How do we best measure the value of a good idea, especially when that idea may deliver returns far greater than expected, while also helping to change the way people think about the way they shop?

But of course, the idea is only the starting point for a good strategy. Planning to put that idea into practice, and ensuring the plan is carried out across the business takes much more, and it’s that detailed and thorough approach to planning that we aim to recognise in this Dimension Report. In our research, we’re measuring the success of strategic innovation through what is achieved and how widely it is available, rather than the ‘eureka moment’ itself.

Not that we want to underplay the importance of that initial good idea. Without good ideas and the will to act on them, UK retailers would still be offering customers service that doesn’t come close to that which is now available. That’s why in this Dimension Report we also want to celebrate the sheer inventiveness of ecommerce and cross-channel retailing, and the way it has developed so far and so fast. As I write, we’re finding out how retailers taken by surprise ahead of Christmas 2014 have learned and moved on from that event to offer a different pattern of shopping this year – one that spreads the discounts in a way that’s more manageable for retailers and could strike a chord with shoppers too.

This is what innovation is all about: learning from experience to provide the kind of service that customers want in the future. That’s how Amazon, which stands out as the only Elite retailer in this Dimension, operates, giving shoppers fast and competitive access to the products that they want to buy. We’re unsurprised that Amazon was among the first retailers to bring Black Friday to the UK – and this year most traders have been grappling with the results of that decision. It’s a strategic and innovative move that has firmly changed the way many customers buy, and that most retailers now sell.

As we continue to develop our research in coming years, we’ll have our eyes firmly fixed on the way that top retailers develop and implement new strategies, responding to the changing needs of the customer. We’ll be looking to make objective assessments based on the hard data that our research brings. We’ll also be putting those findings in the context of the wider retail experience.

We’re always interested to know what you think too, in the light of your combined industry experience. Do let us know your thoughts.