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Conclusion – Nov 2016

It’s clear from the findings in this first InternetRetailing Brand Index that the Leading 100 brands are competing on a level playing field with IREU Top500 retailers. Equally, it’s also clear that manufacturing and design-led brands can, as a group, offer customers the same overall level of engagement, service and fulfilment that retailers do. Indeed, great brands go even further by producing outstanding stores and online environments that showcase products beautifully, while at the same time enabling their customers to buy in the most convenient and flexible way that suits them. From Nike and adidas to Apple and Lego, many brands have innovated to find the approaches that work best for their customers.

Thus Nike customers can use technology to design their own trainers, while Lego buyers can wave a box before a screen to see how it will look when built. These illustrate what direct selling can offer a brand: the ability to develop relationships with those customers that wants to buy directly from them. While this may be a relatively small group compared to those people who are happy to purchase those brands online or in stores, it will be an important group since information gathered through the way they browse, buy and choose delivery will help brands shape the ways they sell to all customers. This data can also help retailers understand what works when selling a brand’s products.

In the future, we suspect that the promise of direct customer relationships and the valuable data it can bring will spur many more brands to open their own webstores, and perhaps even to consider opening stores in locations that reflect their brand values. We expect to see more brand stores in shopping centres. Technology will support brands in those ambitions, with cloud technologies allowing them to set up a web presence that also extends to the store, bringing all of that data together in single views of both the product and the customer. Shoppers will be able to expect top-level service of such brands, while we will expect this upturn in service levels to help raise standards across the entire retail sector.

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