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INTERNET RETAILING AWARDS Focus on the shortlist: innovation and omni awards

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As the Internet Retailing Awards 2013 fast approach, we’re taking time to focus on the retailers who are shortlisted for this year’s awards. There are eight categories of award and in each Internet Retailing newsletter we’re going to be considering the claim that each retailer in the commended list has to the award on the night.

We’re starting with The Innovation Award, sponsored by PayLater, which is, say the judges’ guidelines, not about “newness for newness’ sake, but rather inventive and inspiring solutions for problems or the creation of new opportunities”.

The contenders for this title, which singles out retailers who have launched novel or distinctive services or products that have changed our idea of best practice and are set to be sustainable in the long term, are Burberry, Made.com, M&S and Topshop.

Burberry has been commended for its store experience, referencing in particular its Regent Street flagship store, in which digital sits within the striking framework of the store itself, allowing customers to explore the range through a variety of screens of all sizes within the store and through the catwalk shows held in-store. Its digital marketing and online experience were also cited by judges.

Made.com is commended for its role in bringing the furniture designer into direct contact with the shopper, and its move from pureplay into channels including a London showroom. Its 3D design tool was also recognised.

M&S is commended in this category for its moves to develop innovative uses of technology, both in the UK and in the Europe. In the UK, judges pointed to its M&S Labs, used to crowdsource products and to come up with digital innovations. Among its technological innovations were the virtual rail that is currently in operation in its new Amsterdam store.

Topshop is commended for its work around London Fashion Week, in which it streamed its own show live, enabling shoppers to click to buy, taking fashion straight from the catwalk to the shopper. Its work in social media was also cited by judges.

The second award in the spotlight today is the Omni Award, sponsored by Portaltech Reply. This is, say the judges, “for a company that astounds us with its appetite for more, and its ability to tame complexity and deliver in every dimension, simultaneously.”

Those commended in this category are retailers who have used all the channels available, bringing them seamlessly under their brand to create ‘one’ retailer that takes an integrated approach to addressing its different groups of customers. The retailers commended in the Omni Award are Aurora, Debenhams, John Lewis, and Tesco.

Aurora was cited for its mobile point-of-sale, its endless aisle technology and its 90-minute deliveries. The retailer was a winner in the 2012 awards for its innovation, but in 2013 it stood out, say judges, for the integration of early innovations and the delivery of an integrated customer service.

Debenhams, say the judges, is a “capable multichannel player,” supported by an endless aisle approach and well-praised mobile initiatives. It’s a retailer, says judges, that “has been quietly increasing its capabilities.”

John Lewis is cited as a retailer that pioneered click and collect and has recently revamped its website. The company, say judges, “is delivering well in all channels individually and importantly weaving them together.”

Tesco was commended for its “at scale” multichannel services that sees it blend multiple store formats, delivery and collection, across a wide range of categories. Judges also praised its eCRM capabilities through the Tesco ClubCard.

On Friday we’ll be covering the next two award categories: the M-Retailing Award and the IRIS Award, for internet retailing in store.

For more details of the Internet Retailing Awards and party click here. Ticket information can be found here.

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