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From the editor-in-chief – September 2017

The focus is firmly on Strategy & Innovation in this latest IRUK Top500 Performance Dimension Report, where we’ve set out to understand what retail good practice looks like in 2017.

Over the coming pages we map the approaches that leading UK retailers are taking as they work to deliver the highest service levels to their customers. It’s in this Dimension, more than any other, that InternetRetailing researchers, with support from our Knowledge Partners, take a big-picture view – and it seems an apposite moment for them to do so. That’s because defining effective strategic approaches and new techniques is especially important at a time when there’s more competition within the ecommerce and multichannel retail industry than ever, and more competition for shoppers’ attention.

As Paul Skeldon writes in the strategic overview, footfall is declining and online growth is lacklustre. It’s a challenging environment, and we see in this Dimension Report how standing out means performing at the very highest level. We hope that by showing how leading retailers are doing this, others will find insights that serve their own businesses well. This year, our research focused largely on customer experience, mapped through analysis of metrics in areas from web download speeds to the time taken to answer a telephone, an email or a social media message. Our approach is distinct from other measures of the retail industry because of our focus on performance.

It’s an approach that has unearthed some fascinating insights. One thing that especially caught my attention was the way that some methods, such as offering next-day delivery and collection, or the use of several images to illustrate a product, are growing in popularity, while others, such as same-day delivery, remain relatively unusual services. That means there are plenty of areas where there are opportunities for traders to differentiate themselves from other retailers. By testing new approaches, retailers may well find they can stand out in even the most crowded markets. Our thanks go once again to our InternetRetailing Knowledge Partners for their generous contribution of datasets. We’re always keen to hear from our readers with comments or suggestions for how we may better assess retail performance.

Ian Jindal


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