The innovation shown by retailers in distributing goods is to be applauded, according to new rankings.
Produced in partnership with Webloyalty, Retail Insider's Digital Retail Innovations Report 2016 identifies the top 50 retail technology initiatives, with delivery and fulfilment innovations taking 9 spots on the list. The fashion and food & drink sectors were also well represented, with 17 and 11 entries respectively.
Online juggernaut Amazon topped the rankings with Amazon Echo, the voice-controlled wireless speaker which has revolutionised home sound systems around the world. Amazon's commitment to innovation was also showcased with Amazon Dash and Amazon Logistics both honoured in the top 10 list.
Google was ranked second overall with its Hands-Free Payment app, which enables customers of McDonalds and Papa John's, among others, to make in-store purchases without using a phone or wallet. Starbucks' Mobile Order & Pay was listed third, retaining its place in the top 3 after coming second in the 2015 Digital Innovations Report.
The Report, now in its third year, rewarded retailers which have made leaps and bounds in the way they deliver to customers. Fifth on the list, Deliveroo has revolutionised the food industry with its bicycle service. In the fashion sector, River Island has been recognised for its 'Click and Don't Collect' service which offers consumers flexibility in the way they receive their goods.
"The retail industry is an exciting place to be. The innovations we've seen in delivery methods in particular show that retailers recognise the process is no longer about just fulfilling orders. Retailers should also provide flexibility and convenience to consumers in the way they receive their goods," commented Guy Chiswick, Managing Director of Webloyalty, Northern Europe.
Innovation in virtual reality was a key trend, as retailers seek to offer a new way for consumers to experience their products and services. Highlights include Ikea's virtual reality kitchen which allows consumers to explore their dream kitchens through a HTC Vive headset.
"Virtual reality is a growing trend which more retailers are starting to embrace, but it's important that technology fulfils a genuine consumer need or directly helps to increase revenues," Guy Chiswick added.
The innovations were scored by an advisory panel consisting of expert analysts and senior researchers from a range of companies, including Burberry, Monsoon Accessorize, Shop Direct and Planet Retail. The panel's scoring was based on four criteria: how innovative, how potentially commercial, potential influence across the sector, and potential benefit to customers.
Glynn Davis, Editor of Retail Insider, said, "The nature of retail in this omni-channel world we now live in is fast-paced, so innovation should be at the heart of every retail business. It's a real accolade for the retailers on the list to be honoured by some of the industry's leading experts as we celebrate the fantastic new technology we've seen over the past year."