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Editors’ comment – July 2017

WELCOME TO our latest IRUK Top 500 Dimension Report, which this time around is centred on Merchandising. It’s an area of retail practice that has evolved rapidly since the advent of the digital age, and which continues to evolve rapidly as we move towards a mobile-first era – just how do you best show off products to their best effect on a small effect?

That may seem a basic question, yet we shouldn’t assume all retailers have answered it satisfactorily. Moreover, further challenges lie ahead as retailers have to adapt to a world where more and more devices are connected to the internet, and the digital chatter will only get more cacophonous. Yet it’s worth returning to basics here. In the end, merchandising remains about getting the right products in front of the right consumer at the right time.

For our strategic overview, editor Chloe Rigby explores how to do this, especially via mobile. Among other issues, she considers how “conversion via mobile devices still lags behind” the levels achieved on desktop and strategic advice on how to tackle this issue.

We take an in-depth look at our research, with a particular emphasis on desktop performance. For our ongoing research analysis we switch the focus to mobile, and to apps in particular. Retailers, our research suggests, may not be using these as imaginatively as they might. A well-designed app can not only help to bind different channels together, but it can be tailored to meet the specific needs of a retailer’s customers.

Turning to those retailers that are excelling in the Merchandising Performance Dimension, we have an interview with AppliancesDirect, which achieves a ranking here that’s far above what we would expect from its Footprint ranking. We also offer case studies that analyse how Hotel Chocolat , Mothercare , Ocado and Sally Express achieve their high rankings. For 12 approaches that work, we offer snapshots of best practice by Top500 retailers.

Finally, to return to where we began, retailers need constantly to be looking for new ways to show off products. For our emerging practice section, we consider the idea of combining content and commerce as a selling aid. Yes, this is an idea that can make some retailers, those that have seen this done badly, roll their eyes, but it may be an idea whose time has come to judge by the work going on in this area.

Finally, we would as ever like to thank our research team, our Knowledge Partners and those retailers that have shared insights. It’s been fascinating researching this Dimension Report, and we hope this comes through in the

pages that follow.

Jonathan Wright and Chloe Rigby, Editors

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