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The IRIS Award – Internet Retailing In-Store

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We have seven candidates for this year’s IRIS Award: Argos, B&Q, Burberry, Homebase, House of Fraser, Thomson (TUI) and Waitrose. Please read through their commendations below before submitting your vote at the bottom of the page. Choose your favourite from the list or select up to three in order of preference.

The last year has seen the renaissance of the store and in-store experience as a vital component of multichannel retail. IRIS (Internet Retailing In-Store) is a new segment within Internet Retailing to consider the people, process and technology implications of the digitally-enabled store fully of digitally savvy and connected customers engaging with digitally-empowered staff selling digitally-enhanced products and services. This Award will recognise retailers who have moved beyond digital displays and point digital offerings to create an immersive, connected and compelling realisation of this next iteration of retail.


  • Seamless incorporation of digital technology into the store

  • Linking digital store technology with the customer’s experience/purchasing via the web and mobile

  • Empowerment of staff to manage and exploit the digital in-store capabilities

  • Successfully taming the technology and complexity to render the new service ‘elegant’ and ‘normal’


Argos [show-irdx rarg]

Argos for us stand out as the first ‘internet retailing in store’ purveyor, but this citation is for the progress made recently as they has reinvested and reimagined their store as part of multichannel.

Argos has developed a new digital store concept, reimagining the high street store in the light of ecommerce, and to great effect. It is not just the use of tablets in-store, but a global approach to customer convenience. The company is not afraid to experiment with its own reality, one in which 90% of shoppers end up in store, even if they bought online. This embracing of the value of the store – in the community, throughout the country – gives it an advantage to introduce the 50% of customer who don’t shop online to the benefits of digital via the instore tablets.

The partnership with eBay drives additional footfall and reinforces their stores’ role as a modern hub where you can get anything you’ve bought online.


B&Q [show-irdx rdiy]

This year has seen the many initiatives across the Kingfisher group – B&Q,, Screwfix, Castorama. B&Q, with its 350 stores, has been at the forefront of leveraging group assets, especially digital capabilities, into services it can offer its customers in store.

The new “Manifesto Stores” illustrate the digital integration.

“Consumers can order online for in-store pickup, store clerks can use iPads to show and sell consumers products available online, and clerks can also use the iPads to customize their recommendations based on a customer’s prior purchase data, which they can call up using the shopper’s loyalty card data. “We’ll know everything else you’ve purchased, or if you have a delivery outstanding,” Scott says. There are also kiosks in the stores where consumers can e-mail themselves how-to guides for home improvement projects, and order products to be brought to them from the storeroom. “Our stockrooms [at the test stores] look a lot like an e-commerce fulfillment center,” Scott says.

The mix of technology and in-store services has been “almost universally positive,” Scott says. He says over the next three to four years he sees B&Q stores becoming smaller as a result, which Scott calls a “right-size store program.”

It’s this blend of and store that garner’s B&Q their nomination.


Burberry [show-irdx rbur]

At Burberry, digital is blended into the customer in-store experience through digitally empowered staff. Burberry has been a past award-winner for their achievements in Innovation and the store experience, so why are they here again? What is the achievement in 2014? Put simply, the plan is continuing to work. Sales are up 17% with the recent half posting over £1bn in sales.

Our interest was piqued by the comment that while online growth was “strong”, footfall in stores was “soft”, as shoppers change the way they shop. Despite lower footfall the sales conversion increased, demonstrating to us the success of their digitally-enabled, integrated store. So we see Burberry on our nominations for 2014 too!


Homebase [show-irdx rhmb]

Homebase has launched phase three of its store refit, with a new digital area in each refitted store. Customers use tablets in-store to visualise their houses with the addition of selected products. The key insight that makes this more than “ipads in a shop” is the training of staff to use the ipad and displays with the customer, rather than abandoning them to use the devices alone. It’s this staff investment that’s impressed us enough to nominate. Paul Loft, MD of Homebase, said: ““people don’t go into shops, go to a machine doing something they’re not sure about and use it”, so staff are available to assist customers with the technology in store as well as with their projects and design ideas.

Homebase has also been looking at in-store staff responsibilities, freeing up their time so they’re available to help customers. Some are now dedicated to assisting customers, especially those working in the digital areas such as the Decorating Centre. The new stores have 15 – 20 extra members of staff and they’re bringing in new skills such as City & Guilds trained decorating consultants. Loft explains that the extra sales these generate make the extra staffing costs worthwhile.”


House of Fraser [show-irdx rhof]

Following the success of their stand-alone “dot com” stores in Aberdeen and Liverpool, HoF has integrated this learning into its Edinburgh 5-floor flagship. The ‘Online Store’, Edinburgh, opened in October 2013. The store is a hybrid online shopping and services boutique, including the new ‘personal shopping suite’. Merchandised with product from brands not available in the store, the store looks like an upmarket boutique destination. After purchase, customers can have the item delivered to the store the next day or their home/office. The store brings over 1,300 brands to Edinburgh and helps to introduce store-only customers to the online proposition with the intention of creating more valuable multichannel customers.

Commercial success has also come from increasing the yield of underperforming floor space with Order in Store terminals, as well as introducing customers to brands that were not previously sold in store.

Buy and Collect sales increased 80% (and exceed the average by 40%), sales density has increased 115%, multichannel customers in the store have increased 18% and brands previously not stocked in the store now account for 33% of collected orders.


Thomson (TUI Travel) [show-irdx rtho]

With 40% of TUI’s travel being sold online the company has revamped its high street travel agents (Thomson) to bring the benefits of digital to the store while supporting the traditional knowledge and service from a physical agent, especially in the unique and custom holiday segments –

Thomson has worked with the concept of inspiration to persuade shoppers to buy. Its new stores sell an idea, not a product; showing potential customers what they might do on holiday. There are large screens at the entrance showing holidays, there are also tablets and kiosks. Doug Glenwright told IRX that the most-used new store technology is the interactive map to plot travel destinations. Sales performance in the year to March 2014 showed +32% increased conversation; +5% average selling price; 5% sales of in-house products.

Doug’s presentation (video) from IRX is here: and the session preview is here:

We are pleased to see this nomination for the contribution it makes to the high street experience as well as the commercial results from blending web information and visualisation with expert service.

Waitrose [show-irdx rwai]

Waitrose’ nomination is a result of the rapid progress they’ve made in the last year to implement and integrate mobile and tablet in-store. Learning we assume from the standards set by John Lewis, Waitrose has made an assured leap forward, and also offers complementary tablets for browsing and free wifi. The store experience is complemented by the ability to scan products for more information or even derive shopping lists from recipes. The imminent launch of Waitrose Wine in store will see enhanced and extended range information to support the sommelliers and link to food and recipe suggestions.


Next up: The Customer Award

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