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From the editor-in-chief – August 2016

MERCHANDISING IS THE focus for this latest in our series of InternetRetailing UK Top500 Dimension Reports.

It’s a subject that goes straight to the heart of retail, for successful merchandising is all about the art and science of selling from a distance. The art is present in the way that merchandisers use expertise and experience to show products to their best advantage, developing and fostering the brand in ways calculated to delight shoppers. The science is now starting to come to the fore in a world of digital merchandising, in which shoppers’ behaviour can be measured and understood more exactly. Here, it’s about how retailers use data to understand their customers, and so deliver highly relevant information about products, whether in the form of search results, personalised pages or through offering shoppers the ability to share what they’ve found out about the brand via social media.

Bringing together the art and the science adds up to a level of highly informed merchandising that hasn’t previously been possible. For all personalisation is key, this is about more than looking back to the personal retail service of the local shop, a world in which shopkeepers knew their customers’ names and preferences. Rather, it’s about giving shoppers service that reflects a real understanding of what makes them tick through insights gleaned from their behaviour. Through these data-driven insights, there’s now the capacity to over-deliver on retail promises and to exceed consumer expectations.

In this Dimension Report, we analyse the work of retailers that are at the tops of their games in this critically important area of merchandising; we critique the context in which they are operating; and we share best merchandising practices. Our aim is to understand and share the underlying reasons for success in this area. We’re indebted to our Knowledge Partner Edited, which contributed significantly with its work on how fashion retailers handle stock levels.

Over the year ahead, we’ll continue our research, building up rich data sets in the process. Merchandising is just one of six Dimensions we use to assess the performance and ranking of the IRUK Top500. See the boxout on the right for information on how to access all of our Dimension Reports as they’re published.

Ian Jindal

Editor-in-chief, InternetRetailing

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