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Editors’ comment – May 2016

When retailers build businesses around their customers’ wants and needs, traders find that new priorities begin to emerge. It becomes important to find out both what customers expect, and how customers behave when they shop. Thinking about consumers in this way means that traders start to meet expectations of speed and efficiency, delivering response times across all areas of customer service that not only keep existing consumers loyal but impress new and potential shoppers.

In this IRUK 500 Dimension Report about The Customer, we’ve kept our focus sharply on the customer, mapping how leading retailers currently understand and serve shoppers, as well as how service is adapting and changing in response to buyers’ behaviour. The influences of new technologies, new kinds of retail services and wider social changes all play in here.

We’ve measured and mapped performance in both site speed and customer service, coming up with a definitive assessment of the leading UK retailers in this area of retail craft. Turn to page 12 for senior researcher Martin Shaw’s take on our methodology and our findings. In the first section of the report, we also offer a strategic overview of our findings (page 8), distilling what we’ve learnt might mean for the industry.

The middle section of the report is devoted to practical retail craft. In our case studies (page 18), we look at the methods employed by Schuh, Burberry, Ebuyer and Moss Bros. We also speak with Richard Weaver, ecommerce director at Majestic Wine, about how the company is putting communications and service at the forefront of its efforts to develop individual relationships with its customers. On page 24, we outline 12 practical approaches that companies are employing to create innovative retail experiences and improve service levels.

In the final section, we look ahead, with Mike Petrook, director of corporate affairs at The Institute of Customer Service, offering his vision of the place of social media in the retail landscape, and of how new kinds of customer-centred business models will spring up in the near future (page 29). Plus in out breaking new ground feature (page 32), we explore exactly why it’s so important that retailers reply promptly to customer enquiries.

We’d like to thank all our Knowledge Partners in this Dimension Report.

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

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