As ever, the competition for the StarTrack ORIAs was fierce. But Vinomofo proves it has what it takes to lead the pack, sweeping up three awards.
Australia’s leading online businesses were tonight recognised at the 2015 StarTrack Online Retail Industry Awards (ORIAs) gala at Dockside Pavilion in Sydney’s Darling Harbour.
The event brought together over 650 attendees and marks the culmination of this year’s annual Online Retailer Conference & Expo, which has seen brands from around the globe convene to celebrate the successes and learnings of the past year in the industry.
As the online retail industry continues to heat up, the competition for the StarTrack ORIAs was as strong as ever, but this year online wine retailer Vinomofo emerged the clear victor with three awards.
Hosted by Channel 9’s Richard Wilkins, the event got off to a flying start. Before the awards were handed out, Power Retail‘s very own Grant Arnott introduced the judging panel, which included ShopStyle’s Laura Yeomans, lecturer Charlie Crouch, and Milk It Academy’s Alita Harve-Rodriguez among others.
“This year we’ve seen more innovation than ever, and it’s made it difficult to pick the winners,” Arnott explained to a noisy audience.
StarTrack’s Executive General Manager – Parcel Services, Bob Black came to the stage amidst a lavish drone delivery of the winners’ envelopes – bringing to order the very reason we were all here for the night.
Interestingly it was the booze brands that swept up a large proportion of the awards this year, with Dan Murphy’s leading the charge in multichannel, and Naked Wines taking out best bootstrapped growth initiative as well as the inaugural People’s Choice Award.
But it was online wine retailer Vinomofo that cleaned up with three of the 14 award categories including the ultimate Online Retailer of the Year Award.
Andy Powell, perennial ORIAS judge and Director at Agile Commerce Consulting, said the introduction of some new categories this year allowed for some once overlooked brands to make a name for themselves at the ORIAs.
“It was a pleasure and an honour to be asked once again the judge the ORIAs. We have added some really good new categories recognising smaller online retailers and those undertaking boot-strapped growth initiatives.
“I have a personal association with these awards going back since their inception in 2010 when I chaired the judging panel. From my perspective the real changes in that time have been the depth of quality in the field; the increase in the range of supporting technologies we have seen in submissions and the sophistication of their use; and the explosion of new online retail businesses built on transformative digital technology and social, sharing and collaborative approaches.
“The People’s Choice Award is also another step forward in establishing these awards as the benchmark for the industry from both ‘insider’ and consumer perspectives.”
Personally exciting for the night was the Industry Recognition of the Year award, which very deservedly went to our own publisher Grant Arnott for his enduring efforts to seek excellence in the online retail industry. In an usual unveiling of the award, artist Brad Blaze painted Arnott’s face in gold!
“I wasn’t expecting that,” said a rather bashful Arnott to a standing ovation. More in keeping with his cheeky nature he said, “I got a trophy. John Winning has an airship.”
The complete winners’ list (in no particular order):
Best Pureplay Online Retailer
Co-Founder André Eikmeier said, “We’ve never got an ORIA before so it’s very exciting.”
With an ex-employee now working for Dan Murphy’s, he said cheering for its multichannel win made him “feel a little dirty!”
Best Multichannel Retailer
Best Online Marketing Initiative
Best New Online Retailer
Powell commented on the site: “We witnessed a very good, integrated set of features on the Blisster site – clean lines and look, a high fashion brand, and rich background content tapping into the interests of people buying dance costumes. It really captured the sense of community, it’s beautifully photographed, and demonstrates social integration, a mobile optimised site, and is nicely merchandised in terms of multi-dimensional search by category.
“It did a lot of things well, straight out of the box, with a high fashion sensibility. It just nailed it!”
Best Small Online Retailer
Best Social Commerce Initiative
Best Site Optimisation & Design
Best Online Customer Experience
“Birdsnest has demonstrated a customer service ethos grounded in putting the customer at the absolute epicentre of business,” Powell explains. “I personally love its principle when anyone is dealing with a customer service matter in Birdsnest – “if in doubt, be generous”. It’s this generosity of spirit that is translated into excellent customer service.
“It befriends its customers and this translates into all facets of customer service, making it easy for customers to feel part of the Birdsnest family. As a result, it appears to be generating NPS scores that are stratospheric.”
Best Mobile Commerce Initiative
Best Bootstrapped Growth Initiative
New kid on the block Naked Wines has only been around for three years, but has seen great success in an incredibly short time. It uses an innovative crowdfunding model, and has grown rapidly as a company, gaining many fans along the way.
“Naked Wines has been knocking at the door for a year or two at these awards,” Powell comments. “It’s absolutely proven the principles of growth from curating communities of interest around merchandise, and by tapping into consumers’ search for authenticity in merchandise. It has co-curated the range with its customers through a collaborative subscription commerce model.
“Creating affinity and community around the product, and cutting through the traditions of wine making, taps into something deep and authentic in consumers via a subscription commerce model.”
Best In-Store Initiative
Co-Founder Jodie Fox said, “It’s great to see how the event has grown since the beginning.”
Industry Recognition Award
Online Retailer of the Year
StarTrack’s People’s Choice Award
Tens of thousands of people voted for their favourite Australian online retailer as part of the awards, and with Naked Wines scooping the award, it’s a reflection of where online retail and crowdfunding may be heading.
Luke Jecks, CEO Naked Wines International, said their customers directly supported independent winemakers in return for exclusive wines at wholesale prices. The business currently uses delivery partners Australia Post and StarTrack to deliver product from more than 20 local winemakers across the country.
“The People’s Choice Award is the only StarTrack ORIAS category where Australian customers have the opportunity to decide who deserves to win and, for us, it’s the most important one by a long way,” he said.
StarTrack’s Bob Black said Naked Wines was the perfect example of an online retailer building their business by making their customer’s happiness the number one priority.
“We’re very pleased to see Naked Wines take out our first Peoples’ Choice Award. As a crowd-funded business with a high level of customer engagement and investment in their success, Naked Wines know how important customer satisfaction is and it shows,” he said.
“The StarTrack ORIAS are really representing the high calibre and innovative culture of Australia’s online retail industry, which is now worth $16 billion a year online.”
“As Australia’s leading provider of delivery and logistics solutions for online sellers and buyers, we’re delighted to support the recognition and celebration of those businesses who are delivering the best online customer experiences.
Congratulations to all the winners and runners up, and for those that didn’t make the cut, know the competition was outstandingly fierce.
And with Naked Wines and Vinomofo currently challenging each other to a dance off, it’s time to sign off and go get some damaging video footage of my boss I can use to get a pay rise!