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INTERNET RETAILING AWARDS 2014 The Omni Award

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INTERNET RETAILING AWARDS 2014 The Omni Award
INTERNET RETAILING AWARDS 2014 The Omni Award
Every week we're highlighting the shortlisted retailers in the 2014 Internet Retailing Awards. Today we focus on the Omni Award.

The Omni Award, for the retailer who has it all, is set to be one of the most coveted of this year’s Internet Retailing Awards. There were no fewer than nine retailers put forward for it. Now our distinguished panel of judges has narrowed the number down to a shortlist of five. They are: Argos 
, Evans Cycles 
, House of Fraser 
, John Lewis 
 and Waitrose .

Our judges were looking for, in the words of Internet Retailing editor-in-chief Ian Jindal, who chaired the judging panel: “a company that astounds us with its appetite for ‘more’ and its ability to tame complexity and deliver in every dimension, simultaneously. In our dreams, this is the award we’d like to think of deserving.”

The winner will be the retailer who most effectively uses and integrates all sales channels in a seamless selling model, meeting criteria that also include communicating the ‘one’-ness of the brand.

Argos won through in the nominations by effectively joining-up channels including stores, mobile, tablets, and catalogues – though the latter have lost their centre-stage position in its digital store. Its decision to go digital-first is paying off – online sales now amount to 44% of its total sales. Mobile now accounts for 18% of total sales, while in the last year the company that first developed Click and Collect services is now offering the services for third-party sellers operating on eBay in a highly innovative move.

Evans Cycles 
 won its place in the final shortlist for its work in bringing mobile and the store together in a format that is aimed at increasing customer satisfaction. In-store collection points booked and managed over mobile, allied with staff training reduce waiting times and make an event of collection, for example, while real-time stock information lets the customer know where the bike is, or could be – increasing customer choice. Store staff are also incentivised to deliver good and knowledgeable service to online buyers, being rewarded for web sales.

House of Fraser 
 has won attention for its mobile-first approach to its web platform. Responsive and adaptive technology optimise the site for whichever device the customer uses to view it. But it’s also extended that omnichannel approach to its stores, putting extensive online ordering and collecting facilities into department stores and standalone stores, and to its logistics, where, for example, the cut-off point for delivery now stands at 10pm. When Sanpower bought House of Fraser recently, the new owners cited House of Fraser’s department store management systems – from which they aim to learn – as a primary reason for the purchase.

Highlights for John Lewis 
 over the last year include hitting its £1bn milestone for online sales, worth around a quarter of overall sales. Channel-linking click and collect grew by 57% during the year thanks in part to the innovative partnership that enables John Lewis to be collected at sister supermarket Waitrose. The judges recognised that over the last year the company has built on solid, customer-centric foundations to improve its service.

Waitrose is also shortlisted as a nominee in its own right, partly for the Click and Collect expertise it shares with John Lewis – some 60% of John Lewis collections are picked up at a Waitrose - but for its own distinctive approach to online grocery shopping showcased in the relaunch of a Waitrose.com that can be viewed through PCs, iPads, over smartphones at home, on the move, and in store.

The wine department, for example, now has its own site that can be viewed at home or in-store, with a related app, that allows users to browse or find out more about the wines they’re considering in-store. Logistics are also under control, with vans with chiller comparments enabling vans to carry frozen food and allowing for longer-range delivery runs, as well as collection at store, through lockers and drive-throughs.

The overall winner of this award will be announced at the annual awards party, to be held at One Mayfair on June 26.

A reminder too that voting is open for the overall Internet Retailing Award 2014, sponsored by Venda. This is our readers’ award, chosen by you. Vote and your name will go into the draw for a free ticket to the awards party. Click here to cast your vote.

The full shortlist is InternetRetailing Awards, and we’ll be exploring the other categories in the run-up to the awards.

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