The event, taking place at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in Chicago, also spotlighted innovators in nine other award categories.

The Home Depot Inc. took home the top honor in the inaugural Internet Retailer Excellence Awards Wednesday night in Chicago.

The retail chain won Internet Retailer of the Year during the awards banquet that marked the midpoint of the annual Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition. Home Depot, No. 10 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, beat out Inc. (No. 1); Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (No. 3); and Etsy Inc. (No. 24.).

The Internet Retailer of the Year award goes to the Internet Retailer Top 1,000 web merchant that demonstrated extraordinary performance in all aspects of e-commerce activity and on all major e-commerce metrics, according to the judging criteria In 2014 Home Depot’s e-commerce sales increased 37% to $3.76 billion, a growth rate twice that of Amazon’s. Home Depot also added $1 billion in web sales last year, with the web now accounting for 4.5% of the chain’s sales, noted Rob Hoblit, senior director of product management and the product leader for Symantec’s Trust Services Business Unit, who presented the award.

Other factors that earned Home Depot the award were its plans to open warehouses in California and Ohio over the next two years to handle online orders; using the chain’s 2,000 stores to help fulfill online orders; and its $300 million investment in e-retail, warehouse, and supply chain capabilities.

Kevin Hofmann, the chain’s online president, thanked the Home Depot team from top to bottom upon accepting the award. “Behind every e-commerce transaction is a person in a distribution center” and professionals performing other tasks, he said. He also predicted bigger changes to come in e-retail thanks to the continued merging of the physical and digital worlds. “The next five years will be the biggest retail transformation the world will ever see.”


The Home Depot win represented one of 10 awards given out last night in an event emceed by Emmy Award-winning WGN Morning News reporter Ana Belaval. Teams composed of Internet Retailer magazine senior editors, research staff and e-commerce industry experts selected the winners.

By category, the other winners are:

• Mobile Commerce Award (to the retailer showing the greatest creativity, performance and sales growth from a mobile-specific website and/or apps): Groupon Inc. Its app stands as one of the first to enable one-touch checkout via Apple Pay, and has been downloaded some 110 million times worldwide.

• Marketer of the Year (to the Internet Retailer Top 1,000 retailer that most effectively used all forms of online marketing based on email, paid search, search engine optimization and social marketing metrics contained in Internet Retailer’s database to achieve above-average sales growth in its merchandise category): Macy’s Inc. The department store chain increased web sales more than 30% year over year in 2014 thanks in large part to its robust social, mobile, search and email strategies.


• E-Retail Growth Award (to the retail website that ranked in the Top 1,000 for at least two years and achieved the highest growth rate in 2014): Dollar Shave Club. Launched in 2011, the seller of men’s skin care products grew web sales 242% year over year in 2014 to $65 million.

• Newcomer of the Year (to the retail website that grew its sales most dramatically to emerge from relative obscurity to a ranking in the Internet Retailer Top 1,000 of North American retail websites): Uniqlo Co. Ltd. The Japan-based retailer began selling in North America in 2012, quadrupled web sales in 2013 and doubled them in 2014—gains the merchant credits to such tactics as improved site search and one-click shopping on product pages.

• Comeback of the Year (to the Top 1,000 e-retailer showing the greatest growth after a year or two of declining sales and that achieved such improvement through criteria such as better marketing, site performance, merchandising, etc.): Pier 1 Imports Inc. The chain exited e-commerce for five years before stepping back into the ring in 2012. Stacey Renfro, the chain’s senior vice president of e-commerce, said the exit proved an advantage for Pier 1, as it was able to come back with a fully realized omnichannel push. Starting fresh, she said, was an advantage in that it didn’t need to worry about building on top of older legacy systems and processes. “We got to build it the right way,” she said during her acceptance speech.

• Web Redesign of the Year (to the website that shows a major improvement in its appeal, functionality and customer friendliness while producing improved results with higher average ticket, conversion rates and higher sales, etc.): Signature Hardware, an e-retailer of kitchen and bath products, transformed a text-based, database-centric site into something highly visual and more intuitive to shoppers. Mark Morse, the company’s vice president of marketing, joked about the previous look of the site: “It looked like Joe’s House of Plumbing or something like that,” though he added that when it comes to keeping an e-commerce site up to date, “the work is never done.”


• Global E-Retailer of the Year (to the retailer that has most successfully invested in selling in online markets around the world and has dedicated time and resources to developing an understanding for each local market it enters): Yoox Group. Rolling out in Europe 15 years ago with local supply chains, currencies and other features, the e-retailer entered the United States in 2006 and China last year.

• Best Video of the Year (to a well-produced retail video featuring high entertainment and promotional values, resulting in higher sales and a high level of viral distribution and awareness): Previously Owned by a Gay Man, a seller of furniture that’s about a year old.

• B2B E-Commerce Player of the Year (to the manufacturer, wholesaler or distributor that most effectively uses a B2B website to increase online sales to business customers and which is considered a pioneer in business-to-business e-commerce development): W.W. Grainger Inc. Web sales of $3 billion last year accounted for a third of total sales for this B2B e-commerce operator, whose web pages provide a wealth of advice on how to buy and use the right industrial products.

“I wholeheartedly congratulate all 10 winners of our inaugural 2015 Internet Retailer Excellence Awards,” said Jack Love, publisher of Internet Retailer. “These web merchants certainly demonstrated excellence in their respective categories, and they’re helping inspire the leaders of tomorrow in e-retailing.”