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Supportive Relationships

Retailers that enable shoppers to ask questions and share their experiences stand out in this Dimension

IT’S WHEN RETAILERS work to build an audience that they lead in the IRUK Top500 Brand Engagement Performance Dimension. When they enable two-way conversations by offering different ways to get in touch, engaging in a personalised manner via those channels and encouraging shoppers to have their say by rating, reviewing and sharing products, they are at the forefront of the best practice that is celebrated here.

For 2018, researchers looked beyond the number of channels that retailers support and the tools they use to enable customers to share their opinions and experiences. They added to these metrics a new level of detail about which channels Top500 retailers most widely offer, how visible those retailers are when shoppers search for products they sell (thanks to InternetRetailing Knowledge Partner Hitwise ) and whether traders with an iOS mobile app enable shoppers to register with their existing account or use their store loyalty cards, thus tying together channels and helping to achieve a single view of the customer.


Retailers engage with customers via a median of eight communication channels – up from two last year. The increase reflects the widening of the research parameters to include more channels. Most Top500 retailers have a Facebook page (98%) and a Twitter account (98%), while a majority have a presence on YouTube (92%), Instagram (91%) and Pinterest (87%). Snapchat (22%) remains a minority channel. Some 6% of the 265 retailers that have an iOS mobile app enable their customers to talk to them via live chat in the app. InternetRetailing research suggests that since last year there’s been a clear move to enable shoppers to share their experiences on the retail website but at the same time, a move away from social media. More IRUK Top500 retailers enable shoppers using their desktop websites to rate (62% from 50% in 2017) and review products (61% from 53% in 2017).

Fewer (18%, down from 26% in 2017) enable shoppers to use social media for social validation (to see if friends also Like a brand, for example), to share (52% from 54% in 2017) and to Like products (16% from 24% in 2017). There has been a large decline in social sharing on mobile apps – down by 11 percentage points to 33% from 44% – while the number enabling shoppers to leave reviews (26% from 27%) and ratings (26% from 28%) via the app remains stable.

Fewer retailers support loyalty accounts from their mobile apps: the 2% of retailers with mobile apps that enable shoppers to set up an account on their mobile app halved from 4% in 2017 while 6% (down by a third from 9% in 2017) enable shoppers to enter the details of an existing loyalty card. Measured for the first time in 2018, 2% enable shoppers to scan their cards from the app. The same proportion support product videos in the app. These mobile app figures are affected by the fact that there was a seven percentage point increase in the number of retailers with iOS apps, with these new apps likely to support fewer features. More than a third of retailers (37% from 36%) require shoppers to register before checking out. Hitwise data showed that Top500 retailers saw 82% of new visits originate from search, along with 18% of returning visits. Overall, an average 55% of visits came from search.

“Since last year, there’s been a clear move away from social media”


Clarks enables its customers to have their say by offering social media validation and sharing, as well as product reviews and ratings from its desktop website. Superdrug also enables social validation and sharing while scoring highly for the level of personalisation on its website and offering daily deals. Homebase is among the retailers that enable shoppers to leave product reviews and ratings from its mobile app and to share and Like products on social media. Argos scores well for a mobile app that includes strong personalisation, social media Likes, written product reviews and star ratings. Wickes enables shoppers using its desktop website to share products via social media, as well as to leave reviews.

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