Senior retail executives gathered at Sourced Market in central London to celebrate the third Retail Insider ‘Transforming Retail Awards’ aimed at highlighting some of the most exciting innovations to happen in the retail sector over the past year.

The categories being judged this year by an independent panel of retail experts were: Best Connected Experience, Best In-store Experience, Most Intelligent Use of Data, Most Promising Newcomer, Best Delivery Innovation, Overall Technology Innovation and finally the Editor’s Special Award.

 

The Awards attracts ever more entries of a very high standard, this year giving the award judges a particularly difficult job. They eventually whittled all six categories down to four or five shortlisted entrants but there can only be one winner so here they are:

Waitrose was the night’s big winner coming out on top in two of the categories. It won Best Delivery Innovation (sponsored by Womble Bond Dickinson) for its ‘While You Were Away scheme, which allows Waitrose drivers to take grocery orders directly in to customers’ homes while they are not in.

In this category, Waitrose was pitted against some strong competition from the charity GiveBackBox which allows free shipping of donated items to charity partners in an effort to reuse packaging from online orders, Sainsbury’s work with technology firm Stuart on its express delivery option ‘Chop Chop’ and Ocado’s Zoom scheme – again in partnership with Stuart – which enables deliveries in less than an hour.

Gavin Matthews of Womble Bond Dickinson presents Ben Cronin of Waitrose/John Lewis with Best Delivery Innovation of the Year

Gavin Matthews of Womble Bond Dickinson presents Ben Cronin of Waitrose/John Lewis with Best Delivery Innovation of the Year

Waitrose also took the joint honours for the Editor’s Special Award (sponsored by Clipper Group) for its work, together with packaging consultancy Unpackaged, on Waitrose Unpacked’. This started out as a one-store, three-month trial showcasing how shoppers can do their weekly shop without using any packaging but its success has led to the trial being extended and brought into further units.

Beverly Ahern of Clipper Group presents Catherine Conway and Helen Clements of Unpackaged with Editor’s Special Award

Judges gave the accolade for Best In-Store Experience (sponsored by PCMS) to Specsavers for its innovative use of technology formerly only available in hopsitals and for combatting the threat from online glasses sellers with apps like Frame Styler.

The other shortlisted entrants here were MATCHESFASHION.com for its concept store 5 Carlos Place; Unpackaged’s work with Waitrose, as detailed above, and finally the Virgin Holidays showroom designed by last year’s winners YourStudio.

Chris Jenkins of PCMS Group presents Sarah Marshall of Specsavers with Best In-store Experience of the Year

The Best Connected Experience of the Year (sponsored by SAP) always attracts some very differentiated entrants. This year judges chose online furniture store Made.com’s revamped showrooms which connect its online operation with physical space. Competition came from IKEA’s Place app, The Entertainer’s Entertainment Squad, connecting online audience with in-store demonstrations, and Ubamarket, which allows for seamless, check out free shopping via its app.

Paul Ellliot and Emily Woodfield of SAP present Aimee Wells and Jamie Bennett of Made.com with Best Connected Experience of the Year

The Most Intelligent Use of Data (sponsored by Software AG) is often a hard-fought battle as there is so much great work going on in this field but judges finally gave a big thumbs up to McDonald’s recent purchase of Dynamic Yield which enables the company to alter menus and pricing in relation to real-time events like the weather and the state of traffic.

It won out against JD Wetherspoon’s work providing talking menus for blind and visually impaired customers, Tails.com personalised pet food, Chattermill’s customer experience partnership with Bloom & Wild and Unmade’s clothing range for Rapha.

Daniel Arboleda of Software AG presents Michael Studer on behalf of McDonald’s the award for Most Intelligent Use of Data

The panel then turned their expertise on deciding which of the new companies entered had the staying power to last the course. The Most Promising Newcomer (sponsored by Bold360) eventually went to Zynstra – a software company that helps retailers quickly overhaul their ageing IT systems.

Also in the frame for this award were drop-shipping platform Avasam, indoor-positioning system Pointr, local shopping app Shopappy and authentication tool Entrupy

Nick Pegram of Bold360 presents Nick East of Zynstra with Most Promising Newcomer of the Year

The final award of the evening – the Overall Technology Innovation of the Year (sponsored by Webloyalty) – went to the fingerprinting certification technology from Entrupy which allows retailers to authenticate luxury goods. As resale markets grow and counterfeiting becomes an ever bigger problem the judges felt Entrupy’s solution was truly game-changing for both retailers and consumers.

The worthy runners up in this category were OneStock’s order management system which means online orders can also be fulfilled from physical stores. Sainsbury’s scan as you go app Smartshop and food waste company Too Good To Go.

Ben Stirling of Webloyalty presents Will Tan of Entrupy with Overall Technology Innovation of the Year

During the evening beer expert Chris Hall of Howling Hops matched beers to individual categories – beers he inspired the guests to try included Bohem Victoria, Howling Hops IPA, Brew By Numbers 01 Saison, and Gipsy Hill Beatnik Pale Ale.

Chris Hall of Howling Hops

The judging panel consisted of a completely independent group of retail expert including: Paul Clarke, CTO of Ocado; Clodagh Moriarty, group chief digital officer at Sainsbury’s; Paul Wilkinson, head of product for space, range and display at Tesco; Martin Newman, founder of Customer First Group; Lawrence Shaw, CEO of Sitemorse; Simon Calver, head of venture investments at BGF; Edwina Dunn, CEO of Starcount; and Sarah McVittie, co-founder of Dressipi.

Full run-down of the winners is as follows:

Best In-store Experience of the Year: Winner – Specsavers

Best Connected Experience of the Year: Winner – Made.com

Delivery Innovation of the Year: Winner – Waitrose ‘While You Were Away’

Most Intelligent Use of Data: Winner – McDonald’s ‘Dynamic Yield’

Most Promising Newcomer: Winner – Zynstra

Overall Technology Innovation of the Year: Winner – Entrupy

Editor’s Special Award – Waitrose/Unpackaged ‘Waitrose Unpacked’

 

Retail Insider would very much like to thank the sponsors of the Awards for their support: Clipper Group, Webloyalty, SAP, Software AG, PCMS Group, Bold360 and Womble Bond Dickinson.

And special thanks to Chris Hall of Howling Hops, the team at Sourced Market, and Gareth Dobson of Beershots. (All images are credited to Beershots).

Glynn Davis, editor of Retail Insider