Necessity is so often the root of invention — and the events of 2020 certainly gave rise to unprecedented necessities. Countless brick-and-mortar stores closed their doors, and the ones that stayed open saw traffic slow to a quarantine-driven trickle. Fortunately, as brands were already increasing their reliance on e-commerce and digital experiences, some quickly found themselves capable of inventing, innovating and personalizing — despite the times. 

This year’s Modern Retail Awards will honor the retailers that survived and thrived in 2020 by doubling down on customer-focused experiences, even when it meant swiftly pivoting their campaign and product strategies to accommodate new shopping behaviors.

Some of this year’s shortlisters enjoyed the benefits of digital nativity, while others ventured into the digital wilds with newfound courage. 

Take eBay, a finalist for Most Responsible Retailer and Best E-Commerce Experience. Among many other initiatives, eBay developed a new light-on-dark color scheme for its iOS and Android platforms, honoring shoppers’ device preferences and improving accessibility and readability. 

Then there’s Brooklinen, a finalist for Best Email Campaign, Best Customer Service Experience and Best Digitally Native Brand. Brooklinen drastically modified its launch schedule, its events calendar and its communications strategy — and it augmented its one-to-one approach to the newly online consumer journey with the rollout of a personalized email marketing campaign. 

In another example, 1-800 Contacts, a finalist for Best Customer Service Experience, Best Use of Technology and Best Established Retailer, adapted to the necessities of the pandemic era with the launch of ExpressExam, an innovative first-of-its-kind app that enables consumers to renew their contact lens prescriptions from home.

Ultimately, the events of 2020 demanded near-instantaneous shifts in strategy, the launches of new digital products and a laser focus on personalization and customer experience. Finalists such as eBay, Brooklinen and 1-800 Contacts rose to the occasion — and they weren’t the only ones. 

See the full list of finalists below.

01
Best Use of Social Media for Commerce

Ring Concierge
Marla Aaron – Fiddling Series Launch
Threads Styling

02
Best Use of Video

The GIANT Company and Brownstein Group – Making a Difference Launch
KERV Interactive and Zulily

03
Best New Product or Launch Campaign

Allbirds – Carbon Footprint label
Horizon Media and Geico – GEICOWEEN
January Digital and Honest Company – Honest Beauty
The GIANT Company and Brownstein Group – For Today’s Table
AT&T and Warner Brothers Television – AT&T 5G
The Clear Cut – The Bling it to the Ballot Necklace 

04
Best Socially Distant Campaign

KFC & Uberall
Dermstore
BHLDN
Zyper and Dunkin’ Donuts
Carter’s – “ShowHER Love” Virtual Baby Shower

05
Best In-Person Experiential Marketing Campaign

Under Armour and Giant Spoon – Under Armour Human Performance Summit
Cooler Screens and Dr Pepper

06
Best Email Campaign

Brooklinen – Birthday Sale
Pandora Jewelry and Movable Ink
Coach and Movable Ink

07
Best Retailer/Agency Collaboration

Sephora, DeVries Global and Weber Shandwick – Bringing the 15% Pledge to the Masses
Touch of Modern and Marketing Architects – What We Can Do
Nuts.com and Marketing Architects
Sleep Number and Horizon Media – Sleep is a Game Changer
Thrive Market and YML – The Future of Grocery, Built in Silicon Valley
Horizon Media, Blue Hour Studios and Little Caesars – #BestThingSince

08
Best Personalization Strategy

The Salling Group and Cheetah Digital
Pandora Jewelry and Movable Ink
Moon Audio and personifyXP
Thrive Market and YML
Coach and Movable Ink

09
Best Omnichannel Strategy

OSEA Malibu
CAVA
January Digital and Honest Company – Honest Beauty
Sephora
Accent Group and Hero

10
Best Customer Insight Strategy

Superdrug & TokyWoky
Madewell
First Insight – Digital Line Review
Faire
SENREVE Global – Alunna Launch

11
Best Customer Service Experience

1-800 Contacts – ExpressExam
Brooklinen
Thrive Market and Linc – CX Automation
Carewell
Alto Pharmacy

12
Best E-Commerce Experience

ADAY
KERV Interactive and Zulily
eBay – Dark Mode
A
pply Digital and Arc’teryx Equipment
Carter’s Inc and Linc
eBay – Secure Local Pickup

13
Best Use of Technology

Anastasia Beverly Hills and Global-e
1-800 Contacts – ExpressExam
Verizon – Touchless Retail
Freckled Poppy and CommentSold
AT&T – 5G Volumetric Capture
Retail Zipline and American Eagle Outfitters

14
Best In-House Innovation Team

AT&T
Nutrafol
Sheertex
MagicLinks
Exploding Kittens

15
Most Innovative Retail Model

MagicLinks – Text2Shop™
The Yes
Adore Me – Elite
Stitch Fix
Goodfair
Wine Insiders

16
Best Digital Transformation

Measured and Johnny Was
Apply Digital & Arc’teryx Equipment

17
Most Responsible Retailer

eBay
The Body Shop
SEED
Sephora
Cuyana

18
Best Digitally-Native Brand

Brooklinen
Adore Me

19
Best Established Retailer

Tractor Supply Company
Imperfect Foods
1-800 Contacts

Future Leader Awards
Jan 22, 2021

Recognizing the next generation of leaders across media and marketing, fashion, beauty and retail.

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