Honouring Australia’s unsung business heroes

At this year’s Online Retail Industry Awards (ORIAS), we’re sponsoring the new Australia Post Unsung Hero Award to honour those who have helped Australian businesses navigate a challenging year. We’ve talked with past ORIAS winners to understand how recognition benefitted their business and acted as a valuable customer touch point.

For the retail sector, 2020 has been a year unlike any other. Businesses were unexpectedly forced to shift their focus at light speed to accommodate 8.1 million households shopping online from March to August 2020 – a 16% year on year increase. Over that period, more than 900,000 new households shopped online for the first time.

Businesses looked for ways to establish or accelerate their digital presence – even experienced online retailers had to adapt to manage surging demand. And around the country, many brick and mortar stores were turned into mini fulfilment centres.

Since 2015, we’ve sponsored the Australia Post People’s Choice Award at the ORIAS. This has given Australians a chance to vote for which businesses have delivered the best customer experience – and has provided businesses valuable feedback and validation that has helped shape their futures.

But an unprecedented year calls for something different. That’s why this year, Australia Post is sponsoring a new ORIAS Unsung Hero Award, which will recognise the innovative thinking, inspiring resilience and gut-busting hard work of those who have helped steer businesses through a period of significant disruption.

We have called on Australia's retailers to nominate an unsung hero from their team, whose efforts deserve special recognition. And as it has for past People’s Choice Award winners, ORIAS recognition may just propel that nominee – and businesses – to even more success in the future.

Riff Raff & Co. grows its network and takes the next step

Emma Kruger founded Riff Raff & Co. in 2016, after she couldn’t find the right soft toy to comfort her child at bedtime. Her company now produces small, washable sleep toys that lull babies off to sleep with built-in white noise – and brings in more than $2 million in revenue annually.

In 2019, Emma and her team took home the ORIAS People’s Choice Award for best small online retailer. She says the win has given Riff Raff & Co. the confidence to network with larger industry players.

“It helped elevate us to where we felt like we could start conversations with others in the industry who we had previously been uncomfortable approaching. And they started reaching out to us. It gave us a much-needed boost in our network, and we started meeting some really interesting people.”

According to Emma, even her larger competitors were, “generally overwhelmingly happy to share their experience.” Their insights into the most important aspects of growing a small business into something larger, have helped her continue to evolve Riff Raff & Co. “From a small business perspective, it’s an amazing entry to that medium-to-large category,” she explains.

She also says that winning the award gave the whole Riff Raff team a chance to enjoy the business’ success. “It was a really amazing opportunity to boost morale and take a moment to recognise the hard work and the important role everybody’s played in our journey.”

Some extra wind in Koh's sails

Since its beginnings at Bondi market in 2016, Adam Lindsay’s business Koh has grown online, earned a loyal fan base on social media, and is now building an international market for its eco-friendly cleaning solution. Adam says Koh’s 2018 ORIAS People’s Choice Award win, for best small online retailer, played a key part in giving the business the confidence to continue growing on its rapid upwards trajectory.

Koh had grown a base of happy customers – reflected in its positive online reviews. But Adam describes winning the award as “a special moment” that provided the validation he and his team needed to keep going.

“As a fast-growth start-up, we were making mistakes here and there, as is the way,” Adam says. “To have our customers support us in that way and show us we were actually doing some things right was huge for our confidence. It was like they were saying, ‘Go on, you’re doing okay, keep going!’ It put some extra wind in our sails.”

Adam always says winning such a recognisable award provided valuable credibility and marketing power. “That was really important for us as a new brand trying to build trust with our customers. Back then, we depended on word of mouth and social media targeted ads. Winning the award was an announcement to the wider world – showing we have something interesting going on.”

Recognising Australia's unsung heroes

The Australia Post Unsung Hero Award has encouraged retailers to nominate one person from their team whose efforts during this incredible year, deserve special recognition. Nominees will be assessed not on how much they directly contributed to revenue or growth, but on how their efforts supported their employer and benefitted customers.

Register to attend the the 2020 Online Retail Industry Awards ceremony – broadcasting live from 5-6pm on Thursday 26 November –and help celebrate Australia's Unsung Heroes. Register here.

This article is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to be advice specific to your business needs. You should consider the conditions of entry before making a nomination for the Australia Post Unsung Hero award.