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2021 Elite retailers named as this year’s RetailX Top500 report is published

Image courtesy of Amazon

Amazon, Argos, Asda, Boots, Marks & Spencer and Tesco are this year’s Elite retailers, named in the top rank of the 2021 RetailX Top500. 

The report, published in association with Klarna, comes following a year of deep change for UK retail, in which online demand has grown fast and delivery has expanded at the same time. The report ranks retailers selling in the UK based both on their size and their performance across six Dimensions – strategy and innovation, the customer, merchandising, brand engagement, mobile and cross-channel, and operations and logistics. 

Amazon appears in the Elite group for the report for the seventh consecutive year – the only retailer to achieve this and the only retailer to have done this as an online-only retailer – without the natural advantages that having stores gives its multichannel rivals. 

Argos has been ranked Elite in six out of seven years, again thanks to multichannel agility. This year it is joined by grocers Tesco, Asda and Marks & Spencer, and by health and beauty business Boots. These retailers have in common that they have been able to remain open during a year of change in which many non-essential retailers had to close their doors. 

This year’s Top500 includes 97 retailers that are new to the list, compared to last year.

Ian Jindal, editor-in-chief of RetailX, says: “The new 2021 Top500 list may look very different from the one we published a year ago. Some retailers have expanded quickly, capitalising on their already strong digital capabilities and the luck of operating in a category deemed essential. 

“Other household names, meanwhile, have lost market share or even gone out of business, as the pressure of a fast-changing market proved too much to withstand for businesses shaped in previous centuries and by now-changed buying habits.”


The report focuses in depth on how UK grocers are now able to deliver more, following a 2020 in which they often doubled the size of their distribution operations. It also looks at how cross-border trade has changed for UK retailers following the new post-Brexit trading relationship with the EU.

In 2021 the challenge is for retailers to trade across channels at a time when more customers than ever are buying online. In this report, we analyse how successful Top500 retailers now sell, months into this pandemic, examining the tools and approaches that they have either adopted or discontinued. Category-specific analysis helps retailers to benchmark themselves against the most successful in the UK, and learn what works in one of the most mature ecommerce markets in the world. 

This year’s report features more case studies and practical examples, showing exactly what retailers are doing to survive and prosper in difficult times. Meanwhile, research findings reflect the ways in which retailers have focused on ensuring that the key components of ecommerce and multichannel retailing are in place, although sometimes reducing the ‘nice to have’ extras that come with highly convenient retailing such as fast access to live chat. 

Jindal says: “Last year we said that more retailers were working to improve their businesses in important ways. This year we’ve seen that stepped up by several gears. Our congratulations go to this year’s Elite retailers.”

To see the full list, download the 2021 RetailX Top500 report here. 

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