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Editors’ comment - December 2016

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IN THIS LATEST IRUK Top500 Performance Dimension Report, we’re looking at one of the most competitive areas of UK retail today. Driven hard by customers who want to take delivery of their online orders in the quickest or most convenient way possible, retailers that lead in this Dimension are pushing their operations to the limit as they ensure they remain competitive. Katie McQuaid, director of Fulfilment by Amazon, puts this well when she says, in our extended analysis of the retailer, that customers want a delivery experience that’s just like popping to the store next door. Even for a retailer with no stores, it’s an experience that has taken investment worth billions to achieve. Other leading retailers in this Dimension have also put resources into getting delivery, collections and returns right.

In our case studies and in our analysing the numbers research report, we take a look at what top quality delivery means in practice and how Top500 retailers, as a group, perform in this area. For all, this is an investment that is, we believe, set to pay off as shoppers prioritise convenient delivery and collections, as well as easy returns, in their shopping decisions. We expect that in the future, delivery services will get even more convenient as this proposal becomes an increasingly important point of competition.

We’ve brought together some real-life examples of smart logistics practices from Top500 retailers in the 12 approaches that work feature.

In the strategic overview, Sean Fleming sets out the current context for UK retail logistics. Our interview around emerging practice is with Jan Godsell, professor of operations and supply chain strategy at WMG, University of Warwick, who considers how logistics that start with the customer might be different in future. Finally, in our new research feature we look at the performance of retailers that sell in Europe and how this compares to those that confine activities to the UK.

We’ve been impressed by the latest practice in this area and we hope that it proves equally thought-provoking for our readers. We’ll be returning to this subject in the next year, as part of the IRUK Top500 2017 research.

In the meantime, we’re always reconsidering the metrics that we use to judge Top500 retailers in this Performance Dimension and we’d welcome your thoughts on potential new areas of research. You can share them by emailing [email protected] and [email protected]

Jonathan Wright and Chloe Rigby, Editors
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