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Editors’ comment – August 2017

WELCOME TO OUR latest IREU Top500 Performance Dimension Report, which focuses squarely on The Customer. It’s based on research undertaken at a point in time when industry talk about building experiences around the customer has started to turn into action, with new technologies enabling retailers to deliver personalisation across channels and at scale.

This is a theme we analyse in detail in our strategic overview, which starts from the premise that “shoppers are now in charge”. By that we mean that retailers across Europe have to react to customer demands or risk losing business, with consumers simply clicking away to another retailer.

How should retailers go about competing in such a world? We talk to The Body Shop’s Harriet Williams about the company’s shift to a customer-first approach. We also have case studies on boohoo , Zara , Apple and Swatch articles that look at these high-performing companies’ strategies in this area. In our 12 approaches that work feature, we take snapshots of best practice across Europe.

Turning to the statistics that underpin these ideas, our analysing the numbers feature interrogates a variety of metrics that may be significant when it comes to tracking retailers’ attempts to deliver the personalisation consumers now demand. For ongoing research, we focus in on website speed. After all, how can retailers deliver great customer experiences if their digital services are slow to load?

In our emerging practice feature, we turn our attention to artificial intelligence (AI), which holds out the promise of helping not just to understand customer behaviour as they navigate a site or move towards a purchase, but also to anticipate customers’ needs.

This is the last of our initial batch of six Dimension Reports analysing the retailcraft of the IREU Top500 across six Dimensions – Strategy & Innovation, The Customer, Operations & Logistics, Brand Engagement, Mobile & Cross-channel and Merchandising. However, our research is an ongoing process.

Join us in the coming year as we look anew at these themes and chart how European retail continues to evolve.

Jonathan Wright and Chloe Rigby, Editors

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