The 2016 StarTrack ORIAs dazzled in Sydney, with mass custom retailers winning big and Appliances Online and Catch of the Day taking out the major awards.
Tonight, beneath the glittering lights of the Sydney skyline over Darling Harbour, Australia’s leading online and multichannel businesses were recognised at the 2016 StarTrack Online Retail Industry Awards (ORIAs) gala.
The event brought together over 700 attendees and marks the culmination of this year’s annual Online Retailer Conference & Expo, which has seen retailers and vendors from around the globe convene to celebrate the successes and innovations of the past year in the industry.
This year brought about a few new categories to the proceedings, with two companies being inducted to the ORIAs Hall of Fame, and two peoples’ choice awards being added to the program.
With the lines between online and offline retail continuing to blur and evaporate, competition for this year’s awards was hotter than ever. Nominees spanned the full gamut of the retail ecosystem, from hot tech start-ups like Disrupt Sports to customisation specialists like The Daily Edited to Aussie retail establishments like Harvey Norman and Dan Murphy’s.
The big winners for the night were Appliances Online and Mon Purse. Mon Purse took out Best In-Store Initiative and Best Bootstrapped Growth Initiative. Appliances Online landed runner up for Best Customer Service, but snagged Best Pureplay and the major prize, Online Retailer of the Year, as well as being an inaugural inductee to the ORIAs Hall of Fame along with Shoes of Prey.
Customisation was also a big winner for the night, with retailers like Mon Purse, Disrupt Sports and The Daily Edited featuring strongly in the shortlist.
The judging panel this year included our very own Grant Arnott, publisher of Power Retail; Alita Harvey-Rodriguez, managing director at Milk It Academy; Andy Powell, managing director at Agile Commerce; James Webber, non-executive director at NORA; Ben Franzi, general manager, e-commerce platforms and marketplaces at Australia Post; and more.
“The quality of candidates was really exciting this year, as was the innovation of start-up retailers,” said Harvey-Rodriguez. “Australia is in a great place in terms of grasping the opportunities online. We’ve still got a long way to go, but people are open to learning and are happy to admit what they don’t know. That’s really empowering.”
While innovative retail start-ups are leading the charge in the new retail space, Harvey-Rodriguez issued a challenge to Australia’s biggest retailers.
“Bigger retailers need to step up in the online space to see how they’re competing with agile start-ups. It’s these agile startups that are changing the face of retail. If the incumbents don’t adapt their plans they will get overtaken by new players that better understand the millennial market,” she said.
This year’s proceedings were hosted by Jules Lund, TV and radio personality and founder of Tribe, a tech marketplace that connects retailers with social media influencers.
At last year’s ORIAs, the winners’ envelopes arrived on stage via drone. This year, in keeping with the shiny toy theme, the envelopes arrived on stage via a StarTrack-branded radio-controlled truck.
Grant Arnott, publisher of Power Retail, takes to the stage to introduce the panel of judges.
“It’s a lot of work, and every year, as standards lift across the board, it gets harder and harder to split the winners,” he said.
“This year, we also introduce the inaugural Hall of Fame, for those retailers who have had an outstanding run of wins and overall contribution to the online retail industry.”
And so the awards unfold…
Best Pureplay Online Retailer
Aaron Links, CFO, Winning Group – “We’ve been involved with the awards for a long time. It’s a proud moment; we take it very seriously. I want to thank our team who put the hard work in day, day out.”
Best New Online Retailer
Gary Elphick, co-founder, Disrupt Sports – “I want to acknowledge everyone who’s helped us out. Tiny Me are around, so are Shoes of Prey. It was those guys that share their ideas and helped us on our way, and we hope to be able to do that for other people.”
Best Small Independent Retailer
Brendan Taylor (co-founder) – “We’ve got a great team back at Costumes.com.au and winning this award two years in a row is just a credit to the staff.”
Runner-up: Hunting for George
Best Multichannel Retailer
Coming to e-commerce late has not hurt Harvey Norman’s. Gary Wheelhouse, chief digital officer at Harvey Norman calls it “last mover advantage”.
“The great thing is we were able to get a lot of inspiration from the people who came before us.”
Runner-up: Dan Murphy’s
Best in-Store Initiative
Lana Hopkins, founder, Mon Purse – “I’m in so much shock!
— Mon Purse (@Mon_Purse) July 21, 2016
Runner-up: Dan Murphy’s
Best Pop-Up Experience
Alyce Tran, co-founder and creative director, The Daily Edited – “I’ve really enjoyed doing all of our pop-ups. I love creatively thinking of how to present the brand spontaneously.”
Best Site Optimisation & Design ben
Ben Hare, COO at Tiny Me: “We’re stoked!”
Best Online Retail Marketing Initiative
Runner-up: Luxury Escapes
Best Mobile Commerce
Tony Nash, CEO, Booktopia – “We’ve had 17 nominations and this is the first victory. And it’s the first one I’ve not actually applied for myself — Lara and Wayne did it all.”
Runner-up: Catch of the Day
Industry Recognition Award
This year, the Industry Recognition Award was led by a squad of Daft Punk-eqsue neon-lit robots, which appeared armed with what resembled multi-coloured light sabres; (hopefully there are no Disney IP lawyers in the audience.) What follows is a dance routine resembling what I assume a rave party will look like once Skynet takes over.
This year, the ORIA Industry Recognition Award goes to John Winning of the Winning Group.
John’s acceptance speech video comes from Mount Kilimanjaro, which he’s in the process of climbing to help cure brain cancer.
“As an industry we have a long way to go, but it’s super exciting,” Winning says via video feed. “Many people in the room will help shape the future of retail. Many of the things we have to do haven’t even been dreamed of yet.”
Best Social Commerce
Anna Stockley, head of digital, Mecca Brands – “This award is all about our Mecca beauty junkies.”
Runner-up: Dan Murphy’s
Best Customer Service
Jane Cay, founder, Birdsnest – “This is the sixth time we’ve been nominated and the third time we’ve won. And it’s now the only category we enter because we believe for us it’s the most important. That’s why we’re here, because of our customers.”
Runner-up: Appliances Online
Runner-up: Cotton On
Best Bootstrapped Growth Initiative
Runner-up: Disrupt Sports
Online Retailer of the Year
“The people we work with are amazing,” said Aaron Links, CFO of the Winning Group. “They are obsessed with doing the right thing by the customer and customer experience. And we want to thank our customers.”
Hall of Fame
For the first time, the StarTrack ORIAs inducted two retail luminaries into the retail Hall of Fame. These were Shoes of Prey and Appliances Online
The Shoes of Prey team accepted the award on behalf of the founders: “It’s been the most incredible journey for those of us involved. We’ve learned so much, and there’s still so much more we want to do.”
People’s Choice – Small Business
— Catch of the Day (@CatchOfTheDay) July 21, 2016
Congratulations to all the winners! Time for the after-party.