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Internet Retailing ecommerce Birthday Party Awards: report and pictures

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Net-a-Porter, Amazon, House of Fraser and Aurora Fashions were among the winners of the inaugural

Award winners, named in six categories, were nominated by more than 200 industry practitioners, including readers of Internet Retailing and voted for by a judging panel that included Simon Forster, director of, David Walmesley, director of multichannel development at Marks & Spencer, Robin Terrell , executive director, multichannel and international at House of Fraser, Guy Hipwell, managing director of Fashionation, Peter Fitzgerald, director, retail at Google UK, Ashley Friedlin, chief executive of Econsultancy, as well as Internet Retailing editor-in-chief Ian Jindal.

Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter won the Customer prize, an award that recognised the ‘wow’ factor of the retailer on the customer. Naming the winner, the judges said: “Net a Porter was considered by all to have broken new ground in product offering, presentation and service. Even though the products have a high average value, the impact of the innovations was felt by retailers at every price-point. The combination of content plus commerce was felt to be the best commercial example known to the judges.”

Claudia Plant, editor-in-chief at Net a Porter, said: “We’re delighted to be presented with this award which acknowledges the vision we had since day one to create the destination for fashion, content and commerce. Over the past 12 years we’ve strived to exceed expectations again and again and have continued to provide our customers with the most seamless, immersive and innovative customer service.”

Ian Tansley of Mr Porter said: “A big thank you from the whole team at Mr Porter. We are delighted to win the customer award, especially since we only launched 18 months ago. Like Net a Porter, Mr Porter strives to give customers with an amazing mix of content, commmerce, and perfect customer service.”

Amazon was a double award winner, taking the title in both the capability and the sustained performance categories. The judges said Amazon was the only retailer they had in mind for the sustained performance award, which recognised performance over a number of years. In short, they said, Amazon “created ecommerce as we know it.” They went on to name Amazon again in the capability category for. “Amazon’s robust and proven-scalable operations persuaded the judges to give Amazon a second award,” said the judges.

“Other businesses may have aspects of the Amazon promise, but no other company delivers at scale, using their own resources primarily (rather than an outsourced partner) and not to such effect.”

Chris Poad, director, enterprise and merchant services at, thanked judges. “The (capability) award talks about the logistics, IT, and operations, and all of these are really part of the DNA of Amazon,” he said. “On behalf of my thousands of colleagues across the world, I thank you very much for these two awards.”

There were two winners of the Innovation Award, where House of Fraser and Aurora Fashions were both felt to have achieved the “inventive and inspiring solutions” demanded by the judges.

House of Fraser, they said was “commended for the continued release of innovations, with multichannel being front of mind. The Aberdeen e-store format was particularly of interest with the judges attaching regard to the commercial success and further roll-out planned for the format.”

Andy Harding, ecommerce director at House of Fraser said: I know the team will be absolutely delighted that all their hard work has paid off and been recognised by such an esteemed panel of judges. Innovation is really important to us and to be recognised for such an award is fantastic.”

Aurora Fashions was cited for developments in its cross-channel and store experience which include the use of in-store iPads, international expansion, the Anywhere Everywhere stock system. Critically, said the judges, they felt that “Aurora was more than the technology in the way they implemented the initiatives.”

Mike Shearwood, chief executive of Aurora Fashions, said the award was well-deserved by retail teams whose mantra was ‘customer first’ and who had made bold decisions in implementing a “constant stream of innovations over the last two years.” He said: “I’d like to thank the judges for recognising all of their hard work in delivering the solutions which have enhanced the customer experience and customer choice.”

The Omni Award, which recognises a retailer who is most effectively keeping pace with the sheer complexity of ecommerce, went to Apple. This was an award not for the technology that it sells, but for the way it sells it. The judges cited “the store experience, the order/configure online, the collect in store, the genius-bar and bookings, the education programmes, the linked impact of iTunes and recommendations and the cross-channel integration in terms of electronic receipting and clientelling.”

“They really have this sewn up,” said judge Jonathan Wall of Shop Direct Group, “across all their channels you get the same level of excellent service.”

The final award of the night, the Judges’ Award, went to Burberry. The award was for a winner who has “managed to assemble all of the parts in a unique and compelling way.” The judges commented upon the digital innovations – in-store display, digital signage, digital catwalk, iPad use – while, they said, recognising “that this was at heart commercial, selling and customer-focused activity, not ‘just’ digital marketing.” They added: “Burberry’s pioneering use of social within its market sector was considered and the judges noted the inspiring impact of Burberry on all retailers, luxury or not, as they seek to improve the customer experience.”

Internet Retailing editor-in-chief Ian Jindal said: “What a fantastic evening! It’s been really amazing to see so many of the industry players – retailers, suppliers, consultants, advisors – the whole gamut of people in internet retailing coming together for a party.”

Special thanks to go the event sponsors,, Demandware, Amplience, Kurt Salmon, Touch2View.

The inaugural Internet Retailing Croquet Challenge Cup (IRCCC) was contested by eight teams. Event organizer Mark Pigou said: “After some hot competition and despite a failure of the floodlights leading to the final being played under smartphone display screen illumination, a winner emerged.”

IRCCC Champions 2012 were Team Charapak, and the runners up were Team Diamond Sharks. Winner of our special Spirit of Croquet award was Team Jewson.

Finally, there’s still time to win a crate of champagne in Amplience’s competition for the best entry to its caption competition, as featured on napkins at the event. You can enter at until the end of the day.

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