The winners of the Retail Insider ‘Transforming Retail Awards 2020’ have been announced during an online unveiling via Zoom. The Awards always aims at highlighting some of the most exciting innovations to happen in the retail sector over the past year and there were plenty of those in 2020.

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

Each year the Awards attracts entries of an ever higher standard, this year the pandemic gave the awards judges a particularly difficult job as there has been so much innovation in such a short time. They eventually whittled all five categories down to three shortlisted entrants but there can only be one winner so here they are:

Andy Harding, Openpay
Gavin Matthews, Womble Bond Dickinson

[Click here for the unveiling of winners of first three categories]

[Click here for the unveiling of winners of final three categories]

First up was Best Connected Experience where the flagship retail experience site Samsung KX took on the entry from tech firm One Stock for its work with Whistles to enable online deliveries to be made from in-store inventory.

But it was eventually the virtual experiences from John Lewis, which caught the judges’ eyes and its online beauty and personalised shopping appointments won the day.

Delivery Innovation of the Year combined three very different short-listed entries. Swyft is a new sofa-in-a-box concept involving smart locks while Polymer Logistics reusable shopping crate also did very well. However, the eventual clear winner was delivery firm DPD Group for a host of initiatives centred on its new app.

The judges definitely had their work cut out in the Most Intelligent Use of Data category, with four very different entrants all using data in very different ways comprising the shortlist.

During the lockdown Fuller’s used Wagestream to allow its workers to access the money they had actually earned as and when they needed it, while 3D Look digitises the human body to ensure consumers are sent the right fit. In the end it was For Good Causes that allows shoppers to donate their unused loyalty points to charity, which was just pipped for the overall win by Optimizely – which showcased its work on an experimentation platform with fashion business Farfetch.

As always the most populated category was the Most Promising Newcomer of the Year. This year the scores were closer than ever as the customised blind-maker Stitched tied for second with DNA Nudge, which uses DNA information to guide shoppers towards better dietary choices. But it was German company Infarm (now working with M&S in the UK) which won, impressing the panel with its high yield, in-store miniature salad and herb farms.

This year for the first time we introduced a Sustainability Award. Shortlisted companies here were DPD Group for its sustainable delivery vehicles, HURR Collective, which enables the rental of dresses between people, and the winner Lost Stock – a company which has found a way to divert Covid-19 cancelled clothing from landfill while also supporting the garment workers in Asia through a box scheme for UK  consumers.

Retail Insider editor Glynn Davis finally chose joint winners in Stitched and One Stock for his Editor’s Choice Special Award. He felt that the former had very cleverly tapped into locked-down artisans during Covid-19, while the latter provides clever plumbing for retailers to maximise the value of their stock.

The judging panel consisted of a completely independent group of retail expert including: Paul Wilkinson, senior product manager for Alexa shopping at Amazon;  Martin Newman, founder of Customer First Group; Lawrence Shaw, CEO of Sitemorse; Simon Calver, former head of venture investments at BGF; Edwina Dunn, CEO of Starcount; Dave Elston, digital consultant and Sarah McVittie, co-founder of Dressipi.

Full run-down of the winners is as follows:

Best Connected Experience of the Year: Winner – John Lewis Virtual Experiences

Delivery Innovation of the Year: Winner – DPD Group

Most Intelligent Use of Data: Winner – Optimizely with Farfetch

Most Promising Newcomer: Winner – Infarm

Sustainability Award: Winner – Lost Stock

Editor’s Choice Special Award: Joint-winners – Stitched and One Stock with Whistles

Retail Insider would very much like to thank the sponsors of the Awards for their support: Openpay and Womble Bond Dickinson.

Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider