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IREU Top500: Merchandising

The third IREU Top500 Performance Dimension Report focuses on merchandising and the art of selling online.

MERCHANDISERS WORKING to expand retail businesses beyond their domestic European markets have an important job to do to explain and sell their ranges of products to a new audience. These new visitors may be used to different approaches to illustrating and explaining products. They may rely on certain tools, from social sharing of a product to reading or writing a review, to aid their decision-making process.

Meeting those expectations is important for retailers: put simply, these may well be the tools that encourage new visitors to buy. When these new approaches are combined with the existing approaches that retailers employ to great effect in their own domestic markets, expansion becomes not only a means of garnering new sales but a highly effective catalyst for positive change. By bringing together what works in different countries, each retailer can potentially improve their approaches in all their markets. As more retailers do so, we may well find that the industry moves towards a more common standard of European merchandising.

It’s a daunting task, but one that leading retailers are starting to tackle in earnest. Against this backdrop, InternetRetailing wanted to find out how Top500 retailers as a group merchandise their ranges, and also what those retailers at the forefront of this group did in order to stand out.

The latest IREU Top500 Performance Dimension Report, produced in partnership with BloomReach, focuses therefore on the Merchandising Performance Dimension and the work of those that are currently at the forefront across the region, pointing to effective practices and case study examples of approaches that really work. The report also highlights practices that are more widely used – and perhaps therefore expected by consumers – in different parts of the large European Economic Area.

InternetRetailing’s researchers explain how they approached this topic in two features contained in the report which is distributed along with this issue of InternetRetailing magazine. Analysing the numbers offers insights into the metrics used to assess performance, metrics that underpin their analysis of the results. The new research feature considers the link between merchandising and revenue over mobile.

They also take an in-depth look at the performance of leading retailers Zalando , , Amazon and Baby-Markt through a series of case studies. Sally Beauty’s Richard Surridge is interviewed for an insider’s guide to the merchandising strategy at the beauty products retailer, whose performance stands out in this area of retail craft. The retailer stood out for highly relevant use of autosuggest product search, while navigational filters enabled customers to drill down by price, brand and product type. Ratings and reviews are clearly visible from the product page and social media plug-ins enable shoppers to share finds.

Richard Surridge, Head of E-Commerce at Sally Beauty, says it’s been important to be driven by data rather than the idea of making the site look attractive. “I haven’t really touched the home page in terms of design,” he says. “We found that maybe only 25% of customers go to the home page, so that would have been a vanity project and wouldn’t necessarily have driven any sales. Most people are diving into category and navigation pages. We’re focusing on where we can really make a difference.”

The report considers further what tools successful retailers use in presenting wares to European audiences in a round-up of 12 approaches to merchandising while the overview feature offers background and context.

Emerging practice is analysed too, with a detailed look at Fujitsu’s efforts to link the online world and the store via personalisation initiatives.

These articles, when taken together, offer a unique picture of how leading European retailers approach the task of selling and communicating products across an enormous market of varying languages, currencies and cultural expectations. The researchers hope that you find them useful.

If you don’t have a copy of the Dimension Report, or prefer to view it online, please visit

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