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A warm welcome to the RXEU Top500, the fourth annual listing of top European retailers. Once again, our research team’s focus has been on mapping how leading traders and retail brands across the European Economic Area, plus Switzerland, are developing their multichannel businesses as they reach out to serve customers across the continent.

These leaders continue to improve their cross-border performance as they offer shoppers more choice. Customers are responding as options widen in areas from payment methods to languages, from deliveries through to the way they are able to engage with the retailers they favour. This annual report offers a benchmark of what the leaders do – whether they are included in our Top500, or the Elite and Leading groups that represent best practice.

Our research this year suggests a changing understanding of the role of stores. The proportion of retailers offering multichannel services – from click and collect to returns – through their stores has fallen. In this report, we explore some of the reasons we may be seeing these types of changes to services – and look at how this may change again in future.

The challenge posed by brands

We contrast the service offered by retail brands and traditional retailers to their customers across the continent. Retailers, our research suggests, tend to focus on a smaller area of this market of 32 countries, while brands are more likely to serve shoppers from a wider geographical area, and to do that in a way that reflects customers’ local languages and payment preferences. But just as brands have learned from how leading retailers serve customers across sales channels, what do retailers have to learn from the service that leading brands now offer? This may be a place in the market where we see significant changes in the near future.

Disruption is expected to come to the overall European market through Brexit, if and when the UK finally leaves the European Union. In these pages, we take a look at what that change might mean for retailers.

This 2019 report comes after a year in which we’ve brought new depth to the way we cover European retailers through our regular weekly newsletter, covering the latest news from Elite and Leading retailers across the EEA. The 2019 edition of our annual RetailX Brand Report shines fresh light on how pan-European direct-selling brands trade in this market. Visit our website to sign up for the newsletter and to download the latest and previous editions of our brand report and other research reports.

Our RetailCraft network, established in 2017, continues to meet through regular events and round tables. We welcomed more members of the RXEU Top500 in 2019 and hope to meet more in the coming year. Do get in touch if you’d like to get involved with any aspect of our coverage of this exciting and fast-developing market.

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