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Merchandising leaders ‘can still improve a lot’ – study

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Peerius , the ecommerce personalisation specialist, has identified the online retailers that lead the way in merchandising best practice – with Amazon not surprisingly at the top of the heap.


The Merchandising Index 2013 assesses the UK’s top 50 retailers – a list that spans apparel, gaming, health & beauty, homewares and more. It ranks them according to overall merchandising performance, as well as at best practice across four key merchandising disciplines: discovery, visualisation, engagement and mobile.

Historically, the apparel sector has been viewed as the home of merchandising best practice – but this year’s index tells us that this is no longer the case. It lagged behind in the discovery, visualisation and engagement categories, but performed strongly in mobile, dominating the top ten.

The top-five this year on the Peerius list are: Amazon UK , Dorothy Perkins , House of Fraser , Topshop and Mothercare .

Roger Brown, chief executive at Peerius, said: “Expanding the Online Merchandising Index to assess retailers across a broader spectrum of categories has been an interesting exercise. It is no surprise to see Amazon come out on top overall, but closer inspection tells us it is something of a jack-of-all-trades, master of one.“It came top in the product visualisation category but, perhaps most surprisingly given the sheer breadth of its product offering, came equal sixth in our discovery category. The fact that Amazon still has so much room for improvement, scoring 118/155 overall, should be a cause for concern for many more specialised retailers struggling to compete.”

In fact, ‘could do more’ is a theme that runs throughout.

The average overall score was just 77/155 – a mark of less than 50% and one which 27 of the top 50 retailers failed to beat. The key lesson for online retailers, therefore, is that there remain a series of significant opportunities to drive conversion by more effectively merchandising key elements of the customer journey. Key takeaways include:

– The home page is being ignored in the overall merchandising mix. The average home page score was just 1.3/5 (or 26%) – only Wickes and Halfords scored top marks

– Super-category pages, so often used as campaign landing pages, are poorly merchandised. The average score is 1.4/6 (24%) and very few retailers present effective recommendation content for instance

– The basket page is also generally poorly merchandised, with an average score of 4/15 (27%). Given the near ubiquity of checkout merchandising in physical stores, it is a surprise to see so few retailers even attempting to replicate the ‘last minute purchase’ effect online.

Brown concluded: “We should not forget that average scores can be misleading, or that precisely how a site is merchandised will reflect individual retailers’ strategies and customer profiles.”

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