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Selling Across Channels

Viewing products from a leader in the Merchandising Dimension is as easy from a mobile device as from a desktop

RETAILERS THAT ENABLE shoppers both to browse products for inspiration and to find specific items quickly stand out in the 2018 IRUK Top500 Merchandising Performance Dimension. The assessment focuses on how easily customers can navigate both desktop and mobile websites as they look for products, for inspiration, and for what other customers thought, whether that’s through reviews or social media sharing.

This year, researchers broadened the metrics they use to assess performance, as a result gaining new understanding of how well retailers present their products on mobile websites and apps. Retailers with iOS apps were assessed for their use of innovative approaches such as augmented reality, native shopping, visual search, product videos and recommendations. This added to existing metrics that considered retailers’ use of merchandising tools from social sharing, wish lists and navigational filters through to ratings and reviews.

InternetRetailing Knowledge Partner Edited contributed data on how quickly products sell out at 28 leading apparel retailers, while Hitwise and SimilarWeb showed how long shoppers spent on leading retail websites. Brand View contributed data on selected retailers’ use of images, videos, reviews and promotions.


There’s evidence that in 2018, UK retailers are simplifying website navigation. Researchers found that 75% of Top500 retailers offer drop-down suggestions when a user is typing a search query, up from 63% a year earlier, while more retailers enable filtering products by price (84%, from 70% in 2017), by brand (59%, from 46%), and by product type (91%, up by 32 percentage points from 59% last year). When no results are found for a search, 34% of retailers offer something other than a blank page, whether that’s alternative results or an information page. This is up from 21% last time. More retailers offer product ratings (62% from 50% in 2017) and the ability to save a product to wishlist (66% from 48% last time). Checkouts are speedier to navigate, with Top500 retailers improving by a median of 33%, from 3.5 pages to 2.1. There has been a move away from discounting: 51% had an obvious promotion when researchers visited their website, down by 17 percentage points from 68% a year earlier.

This year, 32% employ upselling techniques on the product page, up from 12% in 2017. The average Top500 mobile app has fewer features, with fewer offering native shopping (26% 2018, from 35% 2017), a choice of images (48%, from 54% in 2017), and zoomable images (46% from 52%). This is partly due to an increase in the number of retailers offering apps, with the new apps generally supporting fewer features. Push notifications are employed by 52% (54% in 2017) while fewer (42% from 48% in 2017) offer a store finder. But more offer a wishlist in their mobile app (47% from 46%), and product reviews (61% from 53%). Mobile app features that researchers consider cutting edge are being used by relatively few. These include visual search (3%), as well as augmented reality (3%) and product videos (2%).

The barcode scanner, however, is more widely used, by 26% in 2018.Retailers show a median of four product images on both mobile web and desktop product display pages. The average UK shopper views eight web pages in 309 seconds on each visit to an IRUK Top500 website – though almost a third of visits (30%) bounce, or navigate away from the website after viewing only one page.


General merchandiser Argos stands out for a sophisticated approach to merchandising in its mobile app, which offers product reviews and ratings alongside social media Likes. It also scores highly for its use of personalisation. Wickes is among the 25% that use infinite scrolling in their mobile website, and also offers a choice of zoomable product images as well as a store finder in its mobile app. Supermarket Morrisons has been highly rated for its use of personalisation and also for infinite scrolling in its mobile app. Mobile is also key for Marks & Spencer , Debenhams and Ocado , which all have barcode scanners. M&S and Ocado show written product reviews, while Debenhams has predictive search.

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