Close this search box.

From the Editor-in-Chief – February 2017

We’re delighted to bring you the InternetRetailing UK Top500 2017 report. For the third year, our research team has looked in depth at the UK’s leading ecommerce and multichannel retailers, comparing and contrasting the capabilities of these top-flight traders to see where and how the best retailers excel.

Our Index takes an analytical approach that ranges across six Performance Dimensions and isn’t limited to a pure ranking of companies by ecommerce revenues, web traffic or any other single metric. By doing this, we aim to understand and learn from high-performing retailers what best practice is in this highly competitive market, and how it can best be fostered and encouraged in other businesses across the industry. This combined capability is what we call ‘RetailCraft’ and constitutes a striving for excellence, at scale, that’s responsive to the customer.

Our metrics

Our research covered seven Performance Dimensions:

0. Footprint: UK retail turnover, ecommerce turnover, web reach and store estate of retail businesses gives the ‘heft’ and a preliminary rank. We then modify and weight that analysis through consideration of the following Dimensions:

1. Strategy & Innovation: the extent to which the retailer is adapting for growth, international commerce and customer responsiveness

2. The Customer: measuring the experience from the customer’s point of view

3. Operations & Logistics: delivery, returns and collections

4. Merchandising: displaying and describing products, and providing efficient site navigation

5. Brand Engagement: making their brands familiar to the customer, and connecting

6. Mobile & Cross-channel: beyond single ecommerce or store channels

Performance clusters

We’ve ranked the UK Top500 in statistically similar groups.

Elite retailers have performed at an exceptional level across all Dimensions, statistically separate from the subsequent clusters. The six in this group in 2017 are Amazon, Asda, Boots, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Tesco. Our congratulations to the three new retailers in this cluster, and to Amazon, Boots and John Lewis for retaining their positions at the top of UK multichannel retail.

Leading companies are by most measures out in front, and combine both size and capability. Top50 retailers bring us to the 50-retailer point and represent the current state of RetailCraft in the UK. Taken as a group, the strengths and capabilities of the UK industry can be seen in this cohort.

Throughout 2017, we will be continuing our testing and measurement of the whole group. Standout performance and improvements in each Dimension will be published monthly at least, and contribute to the 2018 ranking.


All judges and judgment systems are fallible and our research is no different in that regard. But from the starting point of the IRUK Top500 2015, we have refined and developed our research methods and metrics ever since – criteria that were differentiators last year are no longer, as such innovations have become the mainstream.

Knowledge partners

We could not have done this research without the generous advice and practical help of our Knowledge Partners. We thank SimilarWeb, whose web insights platform rendered the data for web traffic; OneHydra, which analysed search data to find how visible each retailer was compared to competitors; and Brand View, which reviewed the sophistication of retailers’ merchandising techniques as part of the stand-alone Product and Merchandising Tracker. BuiltWith gave us a detailed breakdown of the ecommerce technologies used for each Top500 website. Looking at email strategies, Return Path analysed a huge number of emails sent by Top500 retailers, and the open rates and interaction these engendered. Clarabridge analysed the social media and brand sentiment of the Top500; and Hitwise showed the importance of search as a source of new customers for each website. NCC Group contributed analysis of load times and performance for the mobile and desktop landing pages of the Top500; Ghostery identified the number of third-party tags a website was using; and Poq researched the retail app market, providing a unique dataset on how app features affect conversion, browsing time and average order value.

While we thank them all for their knowledge and hard work, it is the enthusiasm, the spirit of partnership and flexibility shown in working with us that has been most gratifying. We look forward to sharing more of their exceptional work throughout 2017.

Top retailers

Congratulations once more to the InternetRetailing Elite retailers for 2017: Amazon , Asda , Boots , John Lewis , Marks & Spencer and Tesco .

Ian Jindal Editor-in-Chief InternetRetailing

Read More

Register for Newsletter

Group 4 Copy 3Created with Sketch.

Receive 3 newsletters per week

Group 3Created with Sketch.

Gain access to all Top500 research

Group 4Created with Sketch.

Personalise your experience on