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IRUK 2016: The Merchandising Dimension Report

Bound in with this copy of InternetRetailing magazine is the latest in our series of InternetRetailing UK Top500 Dimension Reports on Merchandising, in conjunction with our sponsor IBM. Ian Jindal previews the analysis.

MERCHANDISING IS one of the six key themes through which we analyse the work of the InternetRetailing UK Top500 retailers because it goes to the heart of how retailers sell most effectively. Today’s retailers are going beyond the store and deploying the power of digital to sell across the website, mobile devices, and through channels including social media and the call centre. Understanding and finding techniques that address the complexity of this task is key to success in modern retail.

Merchandising embodies the art and science of selling from a distance. The art is present in the way that merchandisers use expertise and experience to show products to their best advantage, developing and fostering the brand in ways calculated to delight shoppers. The science is now starting to come to the fore in a world of digital merchandising, in which shoppers’ behaviour can be measured and understood more exactly.

Here, it’s about how retailers use data to understand their customers, and so deliver highly relevant information about products, whether in the form of search results, personalised pages or through offering shoppers the ability to share what they’ve found out about the brand via social media.

Bringing together the art and the science adds up to a level of highly informed merchandising that hasn’t previously been possible. For all personalisation is key, this is about more than looking back to the personal retail service of the local shop, a world in which shopkeepers knew their customers’ names and preferences. Rather, it’s about giving shoppers service that reflects not just an acquaintance, but a real understanding of what makes them tick through insights gleaned from their behaviour. Through these data-driven insights, there’s now the capacity to over-deliver on retail promises – and consumer expectations – delighting shoppers into the bargain.

“Merchandising embodies the art and science from selling from a distance.”

In this Dimension Report, we analyse the work of retailers that are at the top of their game in this critically important area of merchandising; we critique the context in which they are operating; and we share best merchandising practices. Our aim is to understand and share the underlying reasons for success in this area.

Our Research Editors, Chloe Rigby and Jonathan Wright, set the context for our analysis of the market in the strategic overview which looks at the way merchandising approaches are developing in the UK, assessing the latest trends and more.

Our Analysing the Numbers feature looks at the varying approaches that both leading retailers and Top500 retailers take to merchandising, from their use of navigation and relevant search results through to the deployment of cross-selling, upselling and more.

Our case studies look in greater detail at the way fashion retailers in this Dimension manage stock, from how quickly items sell through to how effectively traders replenish stock, in research carried out in partnership with IRUK Knowledge Partner Edited, while our lead interview is with Sam Perkins, merchandising director of Shop Direct.

Magazine subscribers have a print copy of the Dimension Report with this issue. However, it’s also available online here.

We welcome your thoughts on new areas of research as we add to our primary data and analysis. Please email your suggestions and ideas to

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