Fast Company Defines Retail Innovation
Groupon landed the top spot on Fast Company’s list of 10
Most Innovative Companies in Retail. In fact, only five brick & mortars
— Trader Joes, Marks & Spencer, IKEA, Starbucks and Urban Outfitters
— made the cut.
The business magazine credited Groupon for "integrating web
and the real-world shopping experience, changing consumer behavior, democratizing
small businesses, and spawning an entire new category." It also claimed
Groupon was the fastest-growing company in web history, earned a profit within
its first seven months, and led to "more than 500 copycat sites" globally.
Joe’s, coming in second, was praised for "becoming bigger than
Whole Foods while retaining its down-home image." By stocking "a
winning combination of yuppie-friendly staples (cage-free eggs, organic blue
agave sweetener) and affordable luxuries," Fast Company said Trader
Joe’s stores are generating an estimated $1,750 in merchandise per square foot,
more than double the level of Whole Foods.
In third, Marks & Spencer was praised
for its sustainability progress, including leading the way in charging for
plastic bags, significantly reducing packaging, launching a clothing recycling
venture with Oxfam, and reducing the impact of the materials it uses on deforestation.
rest of the list follows:
4. Amazon "for leading the way into the digital
book market with the Kindle — and setting off a major shift in the public’s
reading habits," as
well as for its dominance of online retailing.
5. eBay "for leading the
charge on mobile commerce." Fast Company’s editors
noted that this year alone, eBay expects to sell $4 billion in goods via smartphones
and tablets, more than double its figures from 2010 and well above those from
any other retailer. Its core iPhone app has been downloaded some 15 million times.
Apple "for creating platforms and products that breed entirely new businesses," including
the App Store, iTunes 10, the Apple TV digital storefront, and the iPad.
7. Starbucks "for
listening to its customers — really." Out of the
nearly 98,000 ideas have been submitted to MyStarbucksIdea.com, 100 have been
adopted. These include donating unsold pastries to homeless shelters, giving
baristas name badges, selling reusable sleeves, and bringing back Salted Caramel
8. Shopkick, the location-based shopping app, for "bridging
the in-store and mobile retail experience." Fast Company’s editors
noted that beyond rewarding customers as they enter a store, Shopkick’s app
also guides users through physical retailers, letting them see reviews and
9. IKEA for its eco-initiatives, including selling used
furniture online in Sweden as well as investment in developing alternative
energy solutions and lighting products.
10. Urban Outfitters "for nurturing
very distinct, successful, and quirky retail brands, including the youth-oriented
Urban Outfitters, the romantic and sophisticated Anthropologie, and the high-end,
Fast Company is certainly not the only publication with an annual awards
list. Apple landed in first in Fortune Magazine’s list of the top-50 "most
admired" companies, which rates innovation as well as people management,
social responsibility and financial soundness. Also making the cut were Amazon
(7), McDonald’s (10); Walmart (11), Starbucks (16), Nordstrom (17), Target
(22), Nike (24), Costco (29), Best Buy (36), eBay (45), and Lowe’s (49).
came in first in Forbes’ 150 "most reputable" companies,
which measures how companies are esteemed, admired, trusted and liked based
on surveys of the general public. Other retailers landing on the list were
Kohl’s (13), Staples (19), Lowe’s (21), Target (23), Home Depot (24), Macy’s
(26), JC Penney (27), CVS (30), and Kroger (36).
10 Most Innovative Companies in Retail – Fast Company
- World’s Most Admired Companies – Fortune
- America’s Most Reputable Companies – Forbes
Discussion Questions: Which retailers would make your list of the most innovative retailers? Do you disagree with any of Fast Company’s selections?