The Power Retail All Star Bash has finally landed. We take you through the fun and celebrations of the newest event on Australia’s retail calendar.
The event brought together some 400-odd retail industry figures intent on celebrating the best and brightest that online retail has to offer. And there’s been plenty to celebrate. The past year has seen online retail continue to grow and evolve. Trends have changed, new tech has emerged and Australia’s leading retailers have not only met shopper demand, but have led it.
As dusk settles over Melbourne’s iconic Olympic Park an immaculately dressed and visibly buzzing crowd pours into the Glasshouse. Photographers and videographers are on hand documenting arrivals, snapping pics and interviewing VIPs.
As canapés are served, guests pack the foyer, a sea of stylish formalwear. The buzz in the air is palpable. Retailers and vendors mingle and mill, champagne in hand, sharing retail tips, tricks and stories. Notable industry figures move about the room: Paul “Yoda” Greenberg looks debonair as ever; Kate Morris is making her brand proud; Justin Dry looks sharp, but thirsty; and Ruslan Kogan is almost wearing a suit.
“Reasons for Australian retailers to get together and celebrate success are few and far between,” Paul Greenberg told me. “This is a deeply welcome event for the industry. It allows us pause from the breakneck pace of change and transformation to see how far we have come.”
The Glasshouse ballroom, glittering and aglow, is filled with laughter, chatter and the clinking of glassware. The lights fade out and a hush falls over the audience. A video starts to play and the crashing Wagnerian overture from Star Wars suddenly fills the room.
While I take pride in my descriptive powers, they are perhaps not up to the task of doing adequate justice to the video that followed. So, I’ll throw a hearty shout-out to Power Retail’s designer and art director, Nick Georgitsaros, and leave you with the video above and these images.
As the video fades out to waves of applause and laughter, and the crowd attempts to process what they’ve just seen, Power Retail publisher and MC for the evening, Grant Arnott takes the stage to welcome the crowd.
“The people in this room tonight are largely responsible for the generation of $19.1 billion is sales last year, with 15.4 percent growth in domestic sales, and importantly, a 4 percent decline in sales to international retailers,” said Arnott.
“We could thank the Aussie dollar decline for some of that, but I’d like to think that it’s you – the Jedi of this industry, winning the hard fought battle against sales going offshore with better product, better service and better digital experiences.”
Luke Condon, Head of Toll Consumer Delivery, mounts the stage to welcome the crowd and make his address. Dissecting the etymology of e-commerce, Condon talks of online retail bringing people together digitally, before looking forward to world of “phygital” retail.
With the initial formalities out of the way, the crowd tucks into their entrees as the sun sets and lights of Olympic Park start blinking on.
Arnott returns to the stage to introduce the evening’s guest speaker, comedian and raconteur Charlie Pickering.
Pickering riffs on the emptiness of the TV news cycle, revels in the fact that he’s not stuck in a PG timeslot, before assuaging white, liberal guilt with fair trade coffee.
With main course done, Arnott again takes the stage to recognise the innovators, leaders, gurus and stars of the online retail industry, which of course is why we’re here.
Category winners were:
Fast Mover: Luxury Escapes
Top Innovator: Shoes of Prey
Top Retailer to Watch: Mon Purse
Mon Purse founder and CEO Lana Hopkins said: “The Mon Purse team and I were incredibly humbled to receive the prestigious award of Top Retail to Watch.
“We are so incredibly proud of the momentum and early achievements of our disruptive brand. Such early recognition among such esteemed peers is highly motivating for our incredible team and amazing vindication for us regarding the clear customer satisfaction we are achieving in this space.”
“We can not wait to share with you all what we have planned for 2016, its truly groundbreaking. Particularly on the technology development, branding and international expansion side.”
Top Mobile Retailer: Dan Murphy’s
Top Social Guru: Black Milk Clothing
Punching Above Your Weight: Laybyland
Top Brand Builder: Vinomofo
“Awesome night full of industry rockstars. Thank f#ck it’s Friday because there was way too much fun to be had!” Vinomofo co-founder and joint CEO Justin Dry told Power Retail.
Top Book Retailer: Booktopia
Top Automotive Retailer: Supercheap Auto
Top Department Store Retailer: Myer
Top Apparel Retailer: Surfstitch
Pureplay Electrical Retailer: Kogan
Top Entertainment Retailer: JB Hi-Fi
Top Grocery Retailer: Woolworths
Top Pureplay Online Retailer: Catch of the Day
Top 100 Runner-Up: Harvey Norman
Top Online Retailer: Officeworks
“We invest completely in all parts of our business, online and in-store, because we’re a multichannel retailer and that all parts of our business are equally important to us,” said David Haydon, Officeworks COO, on receiving the night’s top honours.
“But what keeps us moving forward is our investment in customer experience, consistently looking for the pain points and fixing them to make it easier for our customers to transact with us in any way they can.
“And what keeps us ahead of the curve and winning awards like this is the competition in the room. Everybody moving the dial forward every year keeps us on our toes. This is a great award to win, second only to that our customers give us every day when they vote with their credit cards.”
With the business end of the evening out of the way, the DJ drops a funky beat and the eager kids hit the dance floor. Those not yet ready to shake it share a drink over retail war stories.
Power Retail would like to congratulate not just those retailers recognised tonight, but all retailers that placed in the Top 100. Tonight is about celebrating the stars of Aussie online retail, the people that make our industry so innovative and exciting. So it’s time to do just that.
In the meantime, I have an after-party to get to.
The Power Retail 2016 E-Commerce Leaders’ Playbook is now available for purchase.