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Editors’ comment – March 2017

IN THIS FIRST IRUK Top500 Performance Dimension Report for 2017, we return to the theme of Brand Engagement. In an era when, thanks to personalisation techniques, customers are impatient of retailers that don’t offer them timely and well-targeted offers, it’s an area of retail craft that’s only growing in importance. But how best to engage with customers? It’s a question that we tackle in detail in out strategic overview, which looks at how shoppers, notably the digital natives of Generation Z, most want to be contacted. Not for the first time in this Dimension Report, we learn that it’s a little too soon to write off email, even in the age of multiple social media channels.

To understand why this is the case, read our analysing the numbers and new research features. Each focuses on elements of the original research that go towards compiling the IRUK Top500 and looks at the kinds of communications with customers that are most effective.

In our case studies, we look in more detail at some of the brand engagement strategies adopted by some of Britain’s best-known retailers, Boots , Marks & Spencer , Waitrose and Mothercare . There’s a two-page interview with David Walmsley, chief customer officer at House of Fraser , in which he outlines how the department store is trying to build a sense of loyalty amongst its most important customers.

We’ve also brought together some real-life examples of smart brand engagement techniques used by Top500 retailers in the 12 approaches that work feature.

Our interview around emerging practice is with Rob Garf and Jamie Merrick of Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Both have fascinating insights to offer on how brands are moving into the B2C sector and selling direct to customers.

Is this a threat to retailers? Undoubtedly, but it’s not all bad news. There are huge opportunities for those retailers that successfully adapt to what we’ve dubbed a new retail ecosytem.

Thanks to all of those who have shared their insights. They’ve helped us chart a rapidly evolving area of retail craft that we’ll be continuing to monitor and returning to as part of the IRUK Top500 2018 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 and

Jonathan Wright and Chloe Rigby, Editors

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