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Editor’s comment

Product. The actual item will be different things across retail sectors, whether it’s something a company manufactures, distributes, markets or a service they operate.

For customers though a product can elicit a range of emotions from delight in finding just what they are looking for through to pain points of a needed item not being available when they want to buy it or only available in a store somewhere else in the country.

In this issue of Internet Retailing we look at the product journey which, from its design and sourcing through to the end of the product lifecycle, recycle or reuse, needs to be merchandised, predicted, analysed, costed, priced,

improved, loved and connected with customers. We also investigate how digital tools are enhancing traditional retail skills.

As the digital age threatens traditional buying and merchandising practices, big data and digital tools are allowing retailers to optimize their product and trading strategies. Katie Smith, Retail Analyst at Editd, explains why the benefi t to buyers and merchandisers in the apparel industry of access to big data can’t be underestimated. One area of pricing that a decade ago was expected to transform retail operations and improve profitability is “price optimisation”. Despite the hype few UK pilots progressed to roll-out, but elsewhere the technology has become mainstream.

Penelope Ody asks whether it’s time for multichannel retailers to catch up. Meanwhile, Matt Beck, Vice President, Marketing Solutions at FICO, was asked by Internet Retailing to explain how leading edge retailers are benefi tting by harnessing analytics to find the sweet spot of customer and product.

Paul Skeldon, Internet Retailing’s mobile editor takes a look at product presentation online and whether it’s time to say goodbye to desktop sites in favour of designing for tablet. He also reports on House of Fraser’s redesigned site which puts it at the vanguard of ecommerce.

For multichannel retailers though, customer facing products and services have historically existed in two separate worlds. Either in real life in high-street stores, or virtually via catalogues and, more recently, ecommerce platforms. Simon Liss, Head of Connected Retail & Leisure at 20.20, looks at three areas that are fertile ground for meaningful digital merchandising and activation of products within real-world environments: bringing the social web into the store to help better present products and services through recommendation and relevance; taking the digital search, discovery and fi ltering techniques from the web and applying them in-store to facilitate the purchase of complex products and/or identification of items from within an expansive range; the mechanics that will allow seamless transitions between physical and digital spaces, including search and NFC.

However well retailers present and promote their products to customers if it’s not in stock they cannot buy it. The same goes for the delivery choice. There’s no point having a pick-up point that’s one mile north of the customer if they are going south.

While retailers grapple with the twin tasks of getting single orders to customers and delivering goods to shops, brands with wholesale businesses also run systems to get their best stock to the right stores – and their own retail estate.

Selling direct to the consumer further complicates the supply chain in terms of stock visibility, manufacturing and speed to market, plus allocation of stock across retail, wholesale and ecommerce businesses. Technology though and a single view of the truth could be the answer to brands’ and customers’ needs.

Retailers, brands and suppliers continue to grapple with an ever changing retail landscape and six major themes will be discussed by retailers at the Internet Retailing Expo (IRX) at Birmingham’s NEC on 26 and 27 March. Over two days, retailers will present in 6 conference streams on Internet Retailing In Store, Customer Experience and Journey, International Retailing, Operations and Logistics, Digital Sales and Marketing, Mobile and Mobility. Retailers sharing their knowledge include Paul Loft, Managing Director, Homebase (who is the subject of this issue’s cover interview), Bertrand Bodson, Digital Director, Argos , Anne Sinclair, Strategy Director, Aurora Fashions and Mike Durbridge, Director of Omni Channel, B&Q . Delegates will also hear from speakers from Clarks , , Asda and Marks & Spencer .

Further details are in the IRX preview in this issue and online at

The Internet Retailing team look forward to seeing you there.

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