2012 was the 18th ‘birthday’ of eCommerce and at IR Towers we decided that we’d celebrate this milestone with a party – something to celebrate the dynamic, open and friendly industry in which we’re privileged to work. Ian Jindal reflects on the evening – which saw clouds turn to evening sunshine on the impressive roof of Cannon Bridge Gardens – and celebrates the winners of the inaugural Internet Retailing Awards.
The Cannon Bridge Roof Gardens provided a spectacular and distinctive venue as 270 guests enjoyed the hospitality, conversation, Circus School, giant touchscreens and the highly-competitive eCommerce Croquet Challenge Cup.
Our Sponsoring Partners – FashShot , Packshot and Demandware – made the evening possible, and really entered into the spirit of the event as first and foremost a celebration. Andrew Gilboy , VP EMEA at Demandware said “Demandware was delighted to sponsor the inaugural Internet Retailing eCommerce Birthday Party and Awards. As well as joining many Demandware customers at the event, it was also a great opportunity to celebrate with the whole eCommerce industry its rapid growth to being of the most important strategic initiatives for all Brands and Retailers.” Lee Friend , founder and Director at FashShot and Packshot, welcomed the approach, saying that FashShot was “pleased to help celebrate the growth of the industry and recognise the stand-out companies in our sector.”
The Awards comprised five categories – Customer, Capability, Sustained Performance, Innovation and Omni plus a discretionary Judges’ Award. Kurt Salmon contributed research insight to support the judges’ decision-making. Siobhán Géhin , Associate Partner at Kurt Salmon noted that “Kurt Salmon was absolutely delighted to sponsor the 2012 Internet Retailing awards. This is a fantastic way to showcase some of the incredible innovation which has taken place in omni-channel retailing over the past year”.
On the evening a series of prizes added to the fun – whether party dresses from Dressipi , or Stella McCartney/Adidas gear from Demandware – while the Internet Retailing Croquet Challenge Cup (IRCCC) pitted eight teams against each other leaving Team Charapak as Champions.
In all it was a memorable evening made possible by the Sponsors, the generosity of the Judges and the hundreds of industry leaders who risked the ‘summer weather’ to party on the roof. We’re making both the Birthday Party and the Awards annual events, and look forward to celebrating progress and success again in 2013.
CHLOE RIGBY REPORTS ON THE AWARD WINNERS:
Net a Porter and Mr Porter won the Customer prize, recognising their wow factor. 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, managing director of Mr Porter said: “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 an amazing mix of content, commerce and perfect customer service.”
Amazon won both the capability and the sustained performance awards. The Judges said Amazon’s performance over a number of years had created “ecommerce as we know it.” In the capability category Amazon’s robust and proven-scalable operations persuaded the Judges to give Amazon a second award: “Other businesses may have aspects of the Amazon promise, but no others deliver at scale, using their own resources to such effect.”
Chris Poad , director, enterprise and merchant services at Amazon.com, thanked the 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: House of Fraser and Aurora Fashions both achieved the “inventive and inspiring solutions”‚ demanded by the judges.
House of Fraser 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. Critically, Judges 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 and the cross-channel integration in terms of electronic receipting and clientelling.”
The final award of the night, the Judges’ Award, went to Burberry , 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 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.”
Siobhán Géhin of Kurt Salmon noted that only “two of the award winners were pureplay internet retailers, leading to a very diverse mix of pureplay, traditional retailers who have embraced omnichannel and brand that’s gone from being a“beginner” in retail to creating one of the most envied retail models in existence”. The award-winners truly reflect the range and achievements within our sector and our congratulations once more to them all.
Our eminent judging panel provided insight, debate and knowledge – as well as a few surprises! We are grateful to them for giving their time and expertise. Our panel comprised: Robin Terrell (House of Fraser), Guy Hipwell , David Walmsley (Marks & Spencer), Jonathan Wall (Shop Direct), Simon Forster (Debenhams), Peter Fitzgerald (Google UK), Gavin Sathianatan (Facebook), Vicki Cantrell (Shop.org/NRF), Ashley Friedlin (Econsultancy), Michael Ross (eCommera), Tony Preedy (Lakeland), Alison Lancaster (Kiddicare/Morrisons), Lee Friend (Packshot), Andrew Gilboy (Demandware), Siobhán Géhin (Kurt Salmon).