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Editor’s comment: IRUK Merchandising Dimension Report 2018

It’s now so much easier for retailers to show shoppers the products that are most relevant to them. New technologies, from machine learning and augmented reality to fit recommendations, are helping merchandisers to find new and imaginative ways to bridge the gap between ‘in the flesh’ and ‘on the screen’.

That’s important because when shoppers don’t understand what they’re getting, there’s a greater chance they will send it back and/or share their dissatisfaction on social media. Getting it right is all about communicating what a product is, what it does, and how it is relevant to the shopper.

In this IRUK Top500 Merchandising Performance Dimension Report we’re looking at how leading retailers communicate their products to the people who are browsing their websites. We’re sharing what works for those who stand out in this dimension and we’re looking across the Top500 to establish a benchmark for performance in this area. It’s been an interesting exercise and we hope that readers find this a useful tool.

We’re examining in detail how retailers show the right products to shoppers, and explain how they work and fit. Our Strategic Overview sets the context, while Martin Shaw and Fernando Santos of InternetRetailing’s RetailX research division lay out their findings on how retailers perform in this area in two research focused features, starting with Analysing the Numbers on page 12. Our New Research feature takes a look at how retailers are changing the way they use social tools.

In our Emerging Practice feature we hear from Markus Stripf of Spoon Guru on how machine-learning is helping customers to find the food products that meet sometimes very strict dietary requirements. We take a look, too, at how a broad range of leading retailers are helping their shoppers find the items they want in our 12 approaches to merchandising feature.

We take a detailed look, through interviews with Matthew Gaunt of Wickes and Mark Steel of Argos, and through a case study on Next, at how top retailers are putting merchandising into practice.

You’ll find the list of Top100 retailers that stand out in this area in this dimension report, as well as our overall Top500. We hope you find this Dimension Report useful and we look forward to hearing your feedback on this approach and on any ideas that you have for our future explorations of this subject.

Chloe Rigby

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