World’s Most Innovative Retailing Companies
Warby Parker, Apple, Alibaba, All Best Retail Concepts, Technology, Marketing
To the other 50 companies on the 2015 World’s Most Innovative Companies, it might not seem like there is much that is innovative about the fundamental buy-low-sell-high business model of the retail industry. But the fifteen global retailing companies that were recognized by Fast Company for their leading edge retail concepts, technology, marketing and best practices would beg to differ. The world’s most innovative retailing companies know exactly how much innovation it takes just to to survive in the shapeshifting business of retailing, much less to best the competition.
Since nearly one-third of the companies chosen for the 2015 World’s Most Innovative Companies are companies that have retailing as a significant part of their business model, the innovation list makers both recognize and respect the value of retail innovation. And of all companies in all industries anywhere in the world, it was one of the rising stars of e-commerce that Fast Company considered to be the most innovative business in the world.
The judgers of innovation not only chose e-commerce rising star Warby Parker as the #1 most innovative company, they gave all three top spots on their annual innovation ranking list to retailing companies. Is Warby Parker really more innovative than #2 Apple, the retail disruptor of the century and #3 Alibaba, the biometrics cyber payment pioneer? Maybe, maybe not. But Apple and Alibaba have been around a while, so Warby Parker gives Fast Company something new to talk about.
Thus is the nature of retailing in 2015. The wired-in, uber-connected (not Uber connected), consumer-of-limited-attention-span today is both easily lured and easily lost by the latest and greatest innovation of.... anything. Retail customer satisfaction used to be a matter of “What have you done for me lately?” now it’s a matter of “What have you distracted me with lately?”
Warby Parker Is nothing is not distracting. There’s the reported $100 million in revenue that Warby Parker is generating in its fifth year in business. There’s the Zara-esque vertical integration that has turned the eyewear industry on its ear. There’s the core buy-one-give-one marketing strategy that inextricably integrates capitalism with social responsibility.
All of those leading edge retail practices are individually innovative. But what really earned Warby its designation as the World’s Most Innovative Retail Company in 2015 was the sum total of its retail innovations which managed to make something as utilitarian as eyeglasses sexy.
The WHAT of Warby Parker innovation is in the consistent execution of retailing best practices. The HOW Warby Parker innovation is all about personality. It’s unique. It’s quirky. It’s surprising. It’s endearing. It’s the same kind of “sexy" that ignites fires in personal relationships translated into corrective eyewear. It’s inspiring.
The retailing lesson from Warby Parker's innovative success is about retailing past vs. retailing future. Playing it safe in an effort to offend noone and appeal to everyone may have been the strategy that moved retailing companies down the long road of growth and longevity in the retail history days of yore.
What is the personality of bankrupt ALCO, Deb Stores, Cache, and Jones New York retail chains? Consumers don’t know. Consumers didn’t care. These companies might have benefited from some Warbovation or some Parksonality.
2015 World’s Most Innovative Retail Companies:
1 Warby Parker
27 Panera Bread
38 American Giant
44 Silver Crystal Sports