Worlds Most Innovative Retail Companies, Leading Edge Best Practices

Retail Innovation Trends Revealed in Innovative Retailing Comparison 2010 - 2014

Reprinted with permission from Apple.com

UPDATE: Click for the 2015 Most Innovative Retail Companies >>

When compiling a list of the World's Most Innovative Companies, most people wouldn't expect that that list to be filled with the leading edge best practices of companies in the U.S. retail industry.  There may not seem to be much creativity involved with selling the products that are created by others, the most innovative retail companies clearly understand that successful leading edge retailing is much more than simply buying low and selling high.

Apparently the compilers of the World's Most Innovative Companies list agrees, since 11 out of 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2014 are also some of the largest U.S. retail chains.

Fast Company magazine is a publication about innovative ideas read by innovative thinkers. So it's only logical that each year Fast Company would recognize the companies that are the leaders in innovation with its World's Most Innovative Companies list. It's also logical that if anybody could recognize innovation when they see it in the U.S. retail industry, it would be the listmakers at Fast Company.

The annual Most Innovative Retailing Companies list is fascinating, even though the rankings within the list are seemingly completely subjective. Perhaps the Fast Company pickers and rankers use some methodology that is more scientific than because-we-said-so, but if they do, it's not a methodology that they feel is worth publishing.



But ranking fairness and scientific logic aside, the Most Innovative Retailers list always includes companies that are doing it differently, doing it better, and doing it in ways that seemed impossible to everybody else, whatever their "it" is.

For the global retail industry companies (and companies with significant retail operations) named as a Most Innovative Company, their "it" is both the "what" and the "how" of getting products to end users.

These days, innovation is what grabs the attention of the retail consumer even more than the retail products themselves.

What follows is the list of 2014 Most Innovative Retailers, according to the secret, mystical, magical formula used by the FastCompany picking and ranking team. The number in the left column is the ranking giving to each company, out of a total of 50 innovative companies in all industries throughout the world. While some of the companies on the list below are not strictly retailing companies, retailing is a significant portion of their business model.

After discovering the 2014 Most Innovative Retailers, click to page 2 of this article for a multi-year innovation comparison.

2014 World’s Most Innovative Retailing Companies:

1    Google

5    Netflix

7    NIKE

14  Apple

15  Michael Kors

17  Warby Parker

18  Amazon

20  Tesla Motors

20  T-Mobile

26  GiftHub

30  Levi Strauss

Compare this "Most Innovative Retail Companies” with 2010 - 2013 Most Innovative Lists>>

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Since innovation is all about the newest and best, it's easy to understand why the top innovators today would be the forgotten innovators of tomorrow. An historical innovation perspective not only provides insight into the power of the innovation to predict future success, but it also provides insight about the validity of the list pickers and rankers at Fast Company magazine.

More than anything, a look at the success of the companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon that have sustained their innovative position in the world over several years provides confirmation to today's retail leaders that moving forward requires moving beyond.

A look at the lack of sustained innovation by companies like Wal-Mart, Blockbuster, Best Buy, and Sears strengthens the case for innovation.

What follows is the multi-year comparison of the FastCompany Most Innovative Retail Companies. The list is arranged alphabetically according to the name of the company. The number by each year is the innovation ranking that was given to each company, compared to a total of 50 companies from all industries throughout the world.

Most Innovative Retail Companies in the World - Multi-year Comparison 2010 - 2013:

Ahalife
2013 - #19

Aldi Sud (Grocery Stores)
2010 - #40

Alibaba
2010 - #29

Amazon
2014 - #18
2013 - #2
2012 - #4
2011 - #27
2010 - #2

Apple
2014 - #14
2013 - #13
2012 - #1
2011 - #1
2010 - #3

Birchbox
2013 - #19

BMWDesignworks USA
2010 - #25

Burberry
2011 - #13

Chipotle
2012 - #34

Disney
2010 - #20

eBay
2011 - #22

Fab
2013 - #5

Fast Retailing
2010 - #41

Ford
2013 - #27

Google
2014 - #1
2013 - #11
2012 - #3
2011 - #6
2010 - #4

Greenbox
2012 - #17

Gilt Groupe
2010 - #21

Mahindra Reva
2013 - #22

Marks & Spencer
2011 - #36

Michael Kors
2014 - #15

Microsoft
2011 - #37
2010 - #48

Modcloth
2013 - #19

Nasty Gal
2013 - #19

Netflix
2014 - #5
2011 - #8
2010 - #12

Nike
2014 - #7
2013 - #1
2011 - #23
2010 - #13

Nissan
2011 - #4

Open Sky
2012 - #49

Opening Ceremony
2011 - #28

Patagonia
2012 - #14

Snapette
2013 - #19

Spotify (Music Downloads)
2010 - #15

Starbucks
2012 - #24

T-Mobile
2014 - #20

Target
2013 - #10

Tesla Motors
2014 - #20
2013 - #22
2012 - #13

Trader Joe’s
2011 - #11

Wal-Mart
2010 - #9

Warby Parker
2014 - #17

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