10 Most Innovative Retailers

Innovation is at the heart of the retail business. Brands on the cutting-edge project a cool factor and are able to grow their bottom line by leveraging next-gen business practices and technology.

Forbes annual look at The World's Most Innovative Companies is sprinkled with retailers. The publication's methodology relies on investors’ ability to identify firms they expect to be innovative now and in the future. The companies were ranked on their Innovation Premium, a measure of how much investors have bid up the stock price of a company above the value of its existing business based on expectations of future innovative results (new products, services and markets). Members of the list must have $10 billion in market capitalization, spend at least 2.5% of revenue on R&D and have seven years of public data.

Below are the top 10 retailers named to the list.

#6 Amazon. No surprise that Amazon was the first retailer named to the most innovative list. The pure-play is widely considered one of the most forward-thinking and is constantly tweaking its offerings with features such as steaming video, shipping discounts, and dynamic pricing. The retailer moved up one position from its seventh place finish last year. Innovation Premium: 62.4.

#13 Hermes International. The luxury products manufacturer and retailer built its reputation on super-high-end handbags with price tags that reach into the six-figure range. Being high priced does not equal innovation, but charging premium prices for limited edition products is a lesson that can be passed on to fellow retailers. Innovation Premium: 55.7.

#33 Starbucks. The coffee purveyors helped contribute to a change in the way Americans view and consume coffee. No longer was a cup of Joe at the kitchen table the norm, but rather a complicated caffeine creation that could only be produced by an experienced barista. The company continues to drive innovation through its savvy use of mobile as both a payment engine and a marketing and ordering tool. Innovation Premium: 45.6.

#34 Whole Foods Market. The grocer has ushered in a revolution in the supermarket experience with a host of organic and healthy options. The chain's latest innovation is the launch of one-hour grocery delivery earlier this month. The new service is available in 15 cities and is powered by Instacart. Innovation Premium: 45.6.

#51 Luxottica Group. Luxottica is a worldwide manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer of eyewear. The ever-expanding $9.7 billion company recently streamlined its IT infrastructure with a major overhaul that allows for the seamless sharing of inventory across its various business segments, greatly reducing the amount of inventory needed in the supply chain. Innovation Premium: 40.5.

#54 Estee Lauder. The cosmetics brand is both a CG company and a retailer, selling direct to customers on its e-commerce site. The retailer is diving headfirst into the digital experience, building brand awareness and loyalty through digital initiatives including a new blog/personalized shopping experience that offers fans of the brand product recommendations and beauty and style tips. Innovation Premium: 40.0

#70 Lindt & Sprungli. The premium chocolatier recently acquired a new 400,000 square foot warehouse and distribution center in Carlisle, PA. The new DC allows the company to meet increased demand. In addition, the chocolate maker is investing millions in its manufacturing presence in the U.S. to up production. Innovation Premium: 36.9.

#74 H&M. In addition to being named to the top 100 most innovative companies list, the fast-fashion retailer was named #30 on Forbes most valuable brands list earlier this year. Despite having 3,000 stores in 53 countries the brand is able to pump out new designs in as quick as two weeks — fast fashion indeed. Innovation Premium: 35.5.

#95 Walmex. Walmart de Mexico is the Mexican arm of Walmart. The company is Mexico's largest private sector employer, and one fifth of the Walmart stores are located in Mexico. Innovation Premium:32.4.

#99 Sherwin-Williams. The paint and coatings manufacturer and retailer's stock has increased 20% in 2014 thanks to a rebounding housing market and the company's ability to maintain costs. The $10 billion company dropped 50 spots from its perch in the 49th position last year in the Forbes' ranking. Innovation Premium: 31.4.
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