As part of the virtual Retail Innovation Conference, Retail TouchPoints presented the winners of the 2020 Retail Innovator Awards (RIA) last night on a livestream celebration across its social platforms.
In its seventh year, the RIA recognizes individual retail executives who are breaking through barriers and overcoming challenges to bring innovation to their organizations and the entire retail industry. The 2020 RIA program garnered more than 130 nominations, with this year’s 10 winners representing a diverse variety of retail and CPG brands, spanning a myriad of categories from machine learning and personalization to marketing, sustainability innovation, crisis management and more.
The 2020 Retail Innovation Award winners are:
- Philip Behn, CEO, Imperfect Foods
Category: Sustainability Innovation
Behn joined Imperfect Foods as CEO in November 2019 to drive the business into its next phase, and to forge deeper commitments around sustainability and building a better food system for everyone. Under his leadership, Imperfect Foods’ supply team identified new opportunities to free up food that became stalled in travel after the pandemic hit. Since Behn became CEO, the company has seen a 40% increase in its active user base, and the brand currently serves more than 400,000 consumers nationwide.
- Chris DiTullio, Chief Customer Officer, JOANN Stores
DiTullio has led the implementation of a new product that allows merchants to simulate different promotion scenarios so that they can see the unit and margin impact, and make a more informed decision on promotion planning. Today, JOANN is able to identify and test new promotion structures and depths; use promotion analytics and simulation to use data to plan everyday promotions; analyze which stores have more price elasticity and much more. By having a view of the margin impact of each promotion, the JOANN merchant team is now able to weigh the quantity increase against the margin decrease.
- Markus Dmytrzak, Senior Director of Decision Sciences, Sam’s Club
Category: Machine Learning
Dmytrzak was selected for his work on “Omega” – the Machine Learning Targeting, Measurement and Optimization Suite – a system that uses different types of open source and enterprise data science tools and techniques. The system has helped to revamp the direct mail measurement program at Sam’s Club, and the solution delivered a 12% lift in retail on ad spend over previously used models.
- Nicole Ghezali, SVP of Global Retail, adidas
Category: Machine Learning
Launched in October 2019 at the adidas flagship, a machine learning implementation allows shoppers to use their mobile phones to automatically identify the shoes of their choice. Then they can tap “Bring it to me,” which uses indoor beacons to inform the store associate about where the customer is within the store. The feature has now been rolled out to 50 stores.
- Rodney Hutton, CMO, Ethan Allen
Category: Customer Experience Innovation
It is now vitally important for retailers to improve personalization capabilities before shoppers enter a store, so Hutton and his team consolidated disparate internal systems to create a single view of the customer. With new cloud services in marketing, service and commerce, Ethan Allen is able to connect with consumers with more relevant information and services, and get ahead of marketing by understanding customer preferences.
- Sheila Laing, EVP, Chief Administrative Officer, Hy-Vee
Category: Workforce Optimization
Since she joined Hy-Vee in 2018, Laing has implemented a number of new programs for the retailer’s 22,000 employees, including the company’s first paid parental leave policy; 100% paid maternity leave; adoption reimbursement; healthy lifestyles and wellness programs; paid flex time off for all regular- and full-time employees; and enhanced bereavement leave. More recently, she instituted a benefits plan for 58,000 part-time employees.
- Shekar Natarajany, SVP, Global Supply Chain & Logistics, American Eagle Outfitters
Category: Supply Chain Innovation
When COVID-19 hit, Natarajany and his team went beyond simply keeping the engine running. Their strategy was to use “supply chain as a weapon.” The core of the strategy included network diversification plus regionalization, including local-market presence; the reinvention of store backrooms; fortified ecommerce fulfillment and replenishment; and a de-risk of labor and inventory availability.
- Andrew Nguyen, Head of Product and Personalization, Zappos
Category: Personalization/Identity Marketing
Zappos offers a personalized, gated offer for the military, students and teachers, giving them year-round access to 10% off of their order. The retailer leverages an identity marketing platform to verify the status of each consumer tribe, giving it the flexibility to make these offers exclusive while reducing discount abuse. The platform also gives consumers the ability to opt in to the offers, making it a privacy-friendly method to engage customers. The strategy has significantly improved long-term loyalty at Zappos.
- Tamara Oliver, Retail Operations Specialist, Lindt
Category:Pivot Strategy/Crisis Management
Oliver and her team implemented a cloud-based communications and task management system in order to facilitate effective communications, tasks, training and compliance during critical store closures and subsequent reopenings. The brand closed all stores within a few weeks, then proceeded to plan for the reopenings, helped by lessons learned from its European counterparts. A Reopening Task Force considered every corner of the business, including social distancing, maximum capacity, personal protective equipment, store sanitation, employee experience and shopper experience.
- Amy Smith, Chief Strategy & Impact Officer, TOMS
Category: Social Support
Smith and her team established the TOMS COVID-19 Global Giving Fund to support organizations that are working to combat the negative effects of the pandemic, through mental health support, medical supplies and hand washing. Using the Social Studio platform, TOMS is able to monitor social conversations in order to respond to customers, and can tune into the needs of the brand’s 4 million Facebook followers, 2 million Twitter followers and 950,000 Instagram followers.