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From the editor-in-chief – The Merchandising Report 2015

Merchandising is one of the most traditional retail disciplines, but as it extends across channels it’s also becoming one of the most revolutionary. At the cutting edge, some retailers are already starting to offer website visitors personalised pages compiled using sophisticated algorithms. In time, it’s likely that most traders show shoppers whole individualised websites.

Such developments mean that digital merchandising is starting to surpass what can be done in the store. But the store remains essential: in the foreseeable future it’s clear that customers will still want to look, touch, feel and test the products they want to buy for themselves.

The ability to bring those strands together lies at the heart of the discipline, and in this Dimension Report we aim to focus on what ‘good merchandising’ looks like.

It’s easy to take merchandising for granted. However, as we explore in the pages that follow, that’s something online retailers do at their peril. Just as it’s important to make layout count in the store, so it’s essential to show products to their best advantage online. That doesn’t just mean high-quality images – although those count enormously. Modern merchandisers, rather, start by pre-empting customers’ questions, using reviews and product descriptions to do so. They then go on to use highly advanced tools, from search and analytics to a single view of inventory, to understand customers. From there they can most effectively present the range, and the most relevant choices. Retailers that are featured in this Dimension Report have both met and exceeded these standards.

These are standards that are sure to go on evolving. We expect that by the time we return to this subject, there will be significant advances in what’s possible in this area, just as our research shows big steps have been taken since we considered the subject last year. We’re excited to find out what the near future will bring, and in the meantime we’ll keep up our analysis to bring new insights and learnings.

We’re always interested to know what our readers think too. Do get in touch and let us know as we move forward to the next stage of our research.

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