The 10 Most Innovative Retail Companies Revealed

An annual ranking showcases the companies that are changing the retail landscape and creating a seamless experience for shoppers.
Jamie Grill-Goodman
Senior Editor
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Fast Company’s annual ranking of “The Top 10 Most Innovative Retail Companies of 2021” showcases the companies that are changing the retail landscape.

Many of the names that grace the list create a seamless experience between physical and digital spaces, such as Nike, which connected with customers digitally during pandemic-related store closures with free training videos on YouTube and through its Training Club app. Likewise, Ulta Beauty scaled GLAMlab, the virtual try-on experience in its app, and added a skin analysis tool and AI-powered try-ons. Meanwhile, Canada Goose brought the one thing shoppers can’t get digitally to its store experience: Its Cold Rooms let customers test coats in rooms that drop down to -27 degrees Fahrenheit.

Startup Italic, which also made RIS’ annual “Hot Retail Startups” list this year, made it to Fast Company’s ranking for launching a membership model that allows members to purchase items at cost for an annual $120 fee. Italic takes direct-to-consumer to the next level, pledging to cut out the cost-carrying middleman. Members can purchase luxury goods on its e-commerce site, including apparel, footwear, accessories and home goods, with more than 800 products made in the same factories as such brands as Giorgio Armani, Prada and Chanel.

The Top 10 Most Innovative Retail Companies list also spotlights the growing popularity of secondhand clothing and accessories. Both Depop, a resale marketplace that feels like a social networking platform, and Rebag, which buys handbags and accessories directly from sellers and owns all the inventory it sells, made the cut this year.

Fast Company, published by Mansueto Ventures LLC, also publishes “The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies.” To determine this year’s Top 50, its editors and reporters mined its lists of the Top 10 companies by industry for organizations that embody creative problem-solving and fearlessness in the face of crisis. Shopify, which came in No. 1 on the retail list also came in at No. 3 on the full list of 50 for giving small shops a lifeline by helping them launch online operations overnight.

Here is a brief review of Fast Company’s “Top 10 Most Innovative Retail Companies of 2021." (Click here for the full story.)

1. SHOPIFY: For giving small shops a lifeline

2. NIKE: For reclaiming its relationship with its customers

3. RESONANCE: For simplifying on-demand manufacturing

4. DEPOP: For cultivating the next generation of sustainable designers

5. THE CITIZENRY: For recognizing artisans as designers

6. ULTA BEAUTY: For scaling virtual makeup try-ons when we needed it most

7. ITALIC: For democratizing luxury craftsmanship

8. CAREWELL: For building the Amazon of home health products

9. REBAG: For creating the Kelley Blue Book for luxury handbags

10. CANADA GOOSE: For reimagining storefronts as museums

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