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Editor’s comment – IRUK Top500 2018

The RAPID evolution of technology has helped to shape the always-on, connected consumer who expects to be able to contact a retailer quickly and efficiently, at a time and place of their choosing, using the devices they have to hand.

Very often, the first available device is the smartphone, which shoppers are now as likely to use at home when watching the TV as they are when out and about on the high street, to meet friends, or on their way to work. This push towards mobile technology has put a fresh emphasis on social media as a way in which retailers can connect with their shoppers. But it’s also encouraging new ways of thinking about just how traders and brands can engage with both existing and potential customers in order to win their attention, as well as a share of their disposable income. Voice ordering and live chat are among the key emerging approaches to the challenge, although the basics still remain important. Email and voice calls both play key roles in enabling shoppers to get in touch in the way that is most convenient, at any given moment.

In this IRUK Top500 Brand Engagement report, we’re examining how retailers enable their shoppers to engage with them and how they ensure they have the information that they need to hand. Our Strategic overview (page 8) 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. We also have a focus on social media in this report. On page 32, our New research features a detailed analysis of how brands are using Facebook, while our Emerging practice feature (page 29) takes a look at some standout examples of how retailers are using Pinterest and other social media platforms to their best advantage. Best practice also comes to the fore in the 12 approaches that work feature on page 24. We take a detailed look, too, at the work of Amazon, Footasylum, Holland & Barrett, Pets at Home and Wickes through a series of case studies and profiles.

You’ll also 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.

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