By Claire Reilly

SYDNEY, NSW: The Online Retail Industry Awards (ORIAs) were held in Sydney last night as a part of the Online Retailer Conference and E-Commerce Expo, with Dick Smith and Appliances Online both picking up awards.

Dick Smith was lauded as Best Multichannel Retailer and 2011 Online Retailer of the Year, while Appliances Online (the online venture of high-end retailer Winning Appliances) picked up the awards for Best Customer Experience and Best Site Design & Optimisation.

Speaking about the winning night, CEO and founder of Appliances Online John Winning said the award was very important for the company.

“Our aim is to impress every customer,” said Winning. “Even though we are an online retailer, our model is one that builds old-fashioned customer service into every aspect of the shopping experience.

“We listen to customer feedback and offer things such as free delivery, phone service available 16 hours a day, seven days a week, next day delivery to most metropolitan areas, and 360 degree camera imaging technology. 

“Being online doesn’t mean you don’t have to deal with our customers, in fact we want to create loyal relationships that last into the next generation,” he said.

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Appliances Online boasts an impressive track record – it had more than 150,000 unique customers purchasing between 2005 and 2011, it currently delivers to 98 per cent of the Australian population, and it has a Facebook community of over 170,000 as well as more than 18,000 Twitter followers.

“Over the past year we have increased the number of employees by 300%, now employing 80 staff,” added Winning. “We have expanded across Australia – moving further into Queensland, Western Australian and South Australia to complement our existing presence in Victoria and New South Wales.

“This growth has been extremely exciting, but has also brought its own challenges. Despite our increasing size, we remain an agile company and our core business proposition remains unchanged – we provide our customers with the highest quality, unbiased customer service available, and a large range of products at guaranteed best prices. 

“When we started selling kitchen and laundry appliances online six years ago, many thought selling large items – such as a fridge – online would never take off.

“Yet today the Australian online retail industry is booming – we have a new competitor launching online every other week and consumers now have access to a vast array of online retailers at their fingertips. It’s a fantastic, growing industry to be a part of and it is a huge honour to be awarded by our peers.”