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IREU Merchandising Report 2019

IREU Merchandising Report 2019

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IRUK: The Customer

The latest IRUK Top500 Performance Dimension Report focuses on The Customer. Emma Herrod shares some of the findings.

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The IRUK Top500 Customer Performance Dimension Report – sponsored by RedEye – focuses on how the UK’s leading retailers are serving the people who should be at the heart of any retail business – their customers.


Today’s customer is firmly in charge, setting out where, when and how they’d like to shop. Their expectations have been raised as leading retailers have offered new levels of service in recent years. It makes perfect sense that retailers who give them the experience they demand are more likely to prosper.


Internet Retailing’s team of RetailX researchers assess how well ecommerce and multichannel businesses are serving their shoppers, looking at the research to understand how responsive and relevant the user experience that they offer is. At its core, selling now relies on giving shoppers the choice of how they want to buy. Personalisation goes that step further to learn from the choices that shoppers have previously made in order to offer service in the future.


In this report the team shares practical examples of how the most successful retailers approach the job of satisfying their customers – at a time when those customers have come to expect a seamless, joined-up experience that makes shopping something that’s easy to do. They also look at how the Top500 as a group are working to serve shoppers, and how much that has changed since last year’s report was published.


As usual, the Performance Dimension reports are made up from a performance-based assessment of customer-focused strategies among Top500 retailers, seen through the prism of RetailX research. It is designed as a tool that retailers of all sizes can use to assess their own performance, benchmarking it against what the Top500 do and find areas where strategic improvement can put them ahead of the crowd.


The Dimension Report lead interview is with Sara Prowse, CEO of shoe retailer Hotter. The brand promises a customer experience that, like its shoes, is free of friction and pain points. Its aim is to enable shoppers who span a range of ages and attitudes to technology - its target audience is aged 50-plus – to buy in the way that they want.


Supermarket Sainsbury’s meanwhile, aims to deliver the experience that its customers want, whether that’s in-store or online or through a combination of the two. Its stated strategy is to know its customers better than anyone else, to offer them the services and products that they want – and to be there for customers wherever and whenever they choose to buy. To that end the supermarket is using technology to improve the customer service.


Other case studies in the Dimension Report include Halfords, Debenhams and ASOS.
Investigating steps that work for the leading retailers, the research team identified 12 things that make this group of retailers stand out.

 

These include getting the customer experience right for individual shoppers. Speaking at IRX 2018 in April, Rob Pearson, Head of Personalisation at Next, said it was important for the fashion-to-homewares retailer to engage with all of its different groups of shoppers, rather than simply catering for the typical Next shopper, the woman who buys clothes for themselves and their family while also buying home furniture.

 

“If we don’t start personalising things for people we run the risk of losing them,” he said. To implement personalisation successfully, he said, the retailer needs to learn from its data, setting up online experiences that are relevant to different customer groups and then test them. “Data now fuels getting that insider knowledge of the customer and what’s right for the experience,” he said. By doing so, retailers can increase their conversion rates and boost profitability.


Other stand outs include: Remember the product is the star; Simplify website pages in order to speed up website load times; Enable international shoppers to buy from a website that feels local; Think about how pureplay retailers can use stores – and how retailers of all kinds can use other people’s websites.

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