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Conclusion – July 2017

IN RESEARCHING AND updating the InternetRetailing Top500, it’s been fascinating to observe developments within the sector. In particular, and this is something we have found with the IRUK Top500 too, we notice time and time again how cutting-edge practices are adopted by other retailers. Within multichannel retail and ecommerce, today’s innovations quickly become industry standards – where, that is, retailers can see a business benefit.

That’s not to say that all European retailers are performing at the highest level. Retailing at scale requires a combination of imagination, planning and resources. In this context, the six Elite retailers we’ve identified – Apple , Boots , H&M , IKEA , Nike and Zara – have all got the mix right for their particular sections of the markets.

This latter point is especially important because, while elements of best practice cut across these retailers, each has its own unique approach to serving its customers. Boots, for example, has its hugely successful loyalty card, Nike enables customers to personalise new trainers, Apple connects channels brilliantly and so on. These companies aren’t Elite retailers just because they do lots of things well, which they do, they are Elite companies because, in areas of retail practice that really matter in their markets, they are measurably better at what they do than their competitors.

Whether they will still be rated as Elite retailers next year is another matter. As we’ve already noted in these pages, it takes continuous improvement to maintain the highest standards. Again, as we’ve already noted, there will be another factor playing in here over the next year: Brexit. To look at this from the perspective of retailers based outside the UK, even the possibility of a hard Brexit may be great news as British retailers scramble to cope with a world where tariff s are placed on exports and the pound plunges. Considering the patient, long-term work German and Scandinavian retailers in particular have undertaken to develop multichannel off erings, they may be among the benefi ciaries here.

However, things may not be that simple. In the medium term, it may be that British retailers focus more on European operations, innovating in order to solve the problems a hard Brexit causes. This may actually increase competition. Even next year, when we update the IREU Top500 again, we may get early clues as to which outcome seems most likely.

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