Ilford's town centre is the head district of the IG postcode area. Adjacent to Ilford; to the west of Ilford Hill and the North Circular Road, is the E postcode area.
To the west of the town is Stratford and, further up, Walthamstow and Woodford; east is Romford; north is Epping Forest; and south is Barking.
In 2005, Ilford was ranked 6th in the Retail Footprint ranking for Greater London, behind London's West End, Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Bromley and Brent Cross Shopping Centre. It ranked just above Romford and central London's Kensington. As of 2020, Ilford has 145,860 square metres (1,570,000 sq ft) of total town centre floorspace, the 10th highest in London and noticeably lower compared to Stratford and Romford.
The town centre is served by Ilford railway station on the Great Eastern Main Line in Travelcard Zone 4. All trains calling at the station are the high-frequency Liverpool Street-Shenfield metro service. This service was taken over by TfL Rail on 31 May 2015 as part of preparations for the arrival of Crossrail in 2020/21.