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Every week we’re highlighting the shortlisted retailers in the 2014 Internet Retailing Awards. Today we focus on the Customer Award.

The winner of The Customer Award will be judged from the customer’s viewpoint. Customers will be passionate about this retailer, which they recommend to others, while also connecting with it themselves. But it won’t be a simple love of their products that they’re communicating, rather it will be the experience they get from shopping with this retailer. The winner of this award, in short, will be a class act.

“This award recognises the impact upon the customer and her experience,” said Internet Retailing editor-in-chief Ian Jindal. “Whether it’s a case of insight to a given segment, an unerring knack of connecting, the greatest customer service or an immersive, breathtaking experience. The award winner will have done things that make the customer go “wow”, and the rest of the industry long to emulate them.”

Nominations for this award, which is sponsored by SDL Fredhopper, have been narrowed down by our panel of judges to a shortlist of five. They are: ASOS 
Cult Pens 
John Lewis 
Ocado .

ASOS won its place on the shortlist for a demonstrable ability to delight customers whether they’re in the UK or in their many other markets around the world. It unerringly adapts to local requirements and is fabulously profitable despite – or perhaps because of – its apparently reckless global commitment to free shipping.

Recent addition of the “ASOS Premier” service (giving free next day delivery for £9.99 a year) has increased customer advocacy of the 30million visits/month they receive.

Cult Pens 
 is a site with a passion for pens, writing and stationery. Stocking leading fountain pens, as well as rare consumables and parts, this is a truly niche offering, a site for lovers of fine writing instruments, willing to spend to get what they want, and supported by passionate and knowledgeable staff.

It’s also a site with ardent support from its loyal customers: this online-only retailer has 16,000 TrustPilot reviews with a Trustscore of 9.9.

John Lewis 
 has built its approach, and thus its reputation, from the customer’s point of view. Customers are asked – and listened to – about the service they want to receive. The resulting sensitive service design means John Lewis online shoppers can pick up their orders in Waitrose supermarkets, to take one example. Staff know service protocols, but are empowered to break them if it means they can better serve the customer. Partners feed back front-line experience to their online colleagues, while upholding all service promises whether they were made online or off, with the same conviction.

Lovehoney puts no time limit on its no-quibble returns and satisfaction guarantee. That demonstrates its confidence in its products and customer value, as well as a certain sensitivity to its customer. It’s a proven track record: last year the retailer’s high level of customer support was evidenced by its win of the Internet Retailing Award 2013, voted for by our readers.

Ocado first won its plaudits for the way it sold Waitrose food. Now that the service is maturing we see that it has set delivery and service standards that the other grocers must emulate – time slots, accuracy, order completion. Ocado was nominated due to its delivery and savings pass customer-oriented service innovations that are already starting to become commonplace throughout the sector.

The eventual winner of The Customer Award will be named at the Internet Retailing Awards 2014, 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, in which a winner is chosen by you from the full awards shortlist. Vote and your name will go into the draw for a free ticket to the awards party.

Join the conversation and tell us who you want to win the Internet Retailing Award by tweeting us your vote to @etail with #theawards.

Get tickets for you/your team/your clients/your friends here:

We’ll be exploring the other awards categories in the weeks to come.

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