National Retail Innovation Awards 2020 Welcomes Submissions

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By Retail Insider

The David Sobey Centre for Innovation in Retailing and Services at Saint Mary’s University is hosting it’s 4th annual National Retail Innovation Awards on October 29th. The awards were created in 2017 to recognize young, up and coming Canadian retailers who have excelled and demonstrated innovation in one of three categories: Customer Experience, Retail Technology, and Sustainability.

“As the largest private-sector employer in the country, retailers in Canada hold a critical role in our economy. And to grow and prosper in a competitive global environment, our retailers are innovating in technology, customer loyalty, store, product design, and much more” as noted at last year’s awards by Diane Brisebois, President & CEO of Retail Council of Canada and a member of the David Sobey Advisory Council.

The event normally takes place in Halifax as a luncheon at the Marriott Harbourfront Hotel and hosts students, faculty, staff, external business community, and government officials to celebrate retail excellence and innovation across the country. This year, however, will be a little different as the awards will go virtual due to restrictions around the ongoing pandemic.


With COVID-19 having such a large impact on the retail sector, the David Sobey Centre has also decided to adjust this year’s awards categories. The National Retail Innovation Awards 2020 will instead recognize Canadian retailers who have displayed resilience, creativity, and innovation in successfully adapting to these trying times in one form or another. The three new categories are:

  1. Retail Business Model Innovation — Many retailers have pivoted in new directions and have implemented new revenue sources or business models in response to many of the challenges and restrictions imposed by the pandemic (ex; distilleries making hand sanitizer). This award will recognize a retailer who has implemented such a unique business model innovation.

  2. Retail Technology Innovation — The pandemic led to the closure of many retail stores and curtailed the operations of many others. But many of these retailers implemented technologies in innovative ways to connect with and sell to their customers. This award could include innovation in technology and fulfillment.

  3. Community Service Innovation — We have read stories about retailers going beyond the call of duty to serve their communities during the challenging times in the past few months. This award will recognize a retailer for their innovative and exemplary display of social responsibility, whether that be towards the community or its employees.

Call for Nominations:

If you know of a retailer that has exhibited innovation in one of these categories and feel is deserving of recognition, we ask that you nominate them using the following short form:


  • Must be a Canadian Retailer

  • Must be a young company. Six years old or less

  • Nominations close on September 13

“The David Sobey Centre’s mandate is to help build a vibrant retail sector in Canada. We engage in applied research that guides retailers and supports innovation that solves problems or creates new opportunities for retailers,” said Dr. Ramesh Venkat, Director of the David Sobey Centre. “The National Retail Innovation Awards is a celebration of successful innovation in Canadian retailing. We hope the stories of these visionary entrepreneurs will inspire many others.”

The David Sobey Centre for Innovation in Retailing and Services, founded in 2014, funds and conducts research projects relevant to the retail sector, sponsors retail innovation, and student competitions, and offers executive education for the retail sector.

For any questions regarding the nomination process, the National Retail Innovation Awards, or the David Sobey Centre, please reach out to Austin at

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