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Editors’ comments

Editors' comments

Editors' comments

It’s never been more critical for retailers to take an innovative and strategic approach, argues Paul Skeldon, in the strategic overview feature that sets the context for this IRUK Top500 Strategy & Innovation Dimension Report. It’s about, he suggests, ensuring that innovation doesn’t just happen for its own sake, but within a strong strategic context. New approaches have to have an overarching rationale if they are to succeed with the ultimate arbiter – the customer. It’s the customer’s willingness to buy that will make the final judgement on whether a strategy succeeds.

Different strategies work for different retailers, of course. The suitability and effectiveness of different approaches very much depends on the behaviour and demands of existing and potential customers. We don’t intend to suggest in this Dimension Report that there’s a one-size fits all strategy that is key to success. Rather, we’re looking at the strategies, and the innovative approaches, that are being taken by retailers that lead in this area, and finding what we can learn from them about the development of the sector – such as about which measures are widespread or unusual, and where opportunities may lie.

We hear from Ross Clemmow, retail director at Debenhams on the department store’s plans for a social shopping strategy and how that will work in practice, in our lead case study. We also analyse the strategies that work for Argos , Interflora , Mothercare and Superdrug , and we outline 12 approaches from leading retailers that caught our eye. Our emerging practice feature focuses on how British retailers are harnessing machine learning and artificial intelligence in the next big technological leap forward. We take an in-depth look at the research that underpins this Dimension Report in two features. Analysing the numbers considers the data around what retailers do to improve their customers’ experiences, while our new research feature considers how far advanced traders have got in their work to bring together stores and online through multichannel strategies. We’d like to thank all the Knowledge Partners who have contributed their expertise and insights in both this and previous Dimension Reports. We welcome your thoughts on new areas of research as we add to our primary data and analysis.

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