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When it comes to innovators – we’ve got plenty. As a member of Sailthru’s Customer Success team I work every day (and sometimes nights and weekends) making sure that we understand our clients’ overall strategies and are optimizing their use of our platform so that they are aligned for, well, success. We all know this: We, as marketers, work in a world of intense competition. Every company is striving to do things better, faster and more effectively.

So when Internet Retailer released its 2015 IR Top 500 Guide, I wasn’t surprised that the biggest brands on that list are the ones that everyone already knows – Amazon, Target, Walmart. It’s good to know that the giants are still standing, but, yawn.

What was most exciting was the brands on the fastest growers list. It’s no secret that providing a high-quality customer experience is where brands compete today. Any marketer not focused on CX is going to see the competition blow by them (#dealwithit). The fastest growing brands on this list are the one’s who’ve mastered the science of experience. They’re the ones you should be following, quite literally, because they are adopting next gen tech and redefining how to think about data, engagement and analytics.

And, yeah, a bunch of them are Sailthru clients. We’re damn proud to be their partners as they climb the IR 500. They say it takes great people, great ideas and great technology. So here’s to just a few greats on the list.

1. Alex and Ani, ranked 25th for fast-growing e-retailers, is a great example of how a customer-first approach can transform the customer experience, and – in turn – revenue. The company, which ranked #279 on the overall list, had the second-highest compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over five years at 269.3%. They attribute this growth to their focus on customer data – from building out a single customer view to using that data to create personalized experiences that are connected across multiple channels. Many marketers say this can’t be done. That’s just not true, just ask their SVP of Digital, Ryan Bonifacino @rbonifacino.

2. JackThreads, which hit #237 on the overall list, is one of the founders of the content-driven commerce. Using helpful fashion guides and “best of” lists, the men’s clothing retailer shows customers that it doesn’t just want to sell them clothes, it wants to help them learn how to look good and inspire confidence in their customers. This approach has helped the company achieve a 120.8% CAGR over five years.

3. Birchbox was a leader in the subscription game and claimed the #254 spot on the list, as well as being ranked the 45th fastest-growing e-retailer. The beauty product subscription service and ecommerce site opened its first brick-and-mortar outlet last year, which provides salon services to customers to further extend the great customer experience. With a CAGR of 109.3% over five years, it’s clear that providing a great online and offline experience has helped to bring in new customers and to increase revenue from those loyal to the brand as well. 

4. Rent the Runway, taking the #282 overall spot and the 33rd fastest-growing e-retailer ranking, shook up the fashion industry with their “dress try on” feature. Adding this facet to the online experience helped to reduce purchase friction and boost sales as customers felt more confident in their renting decisions. 

5. JustFab took major efforts to diversify and appeal to a wide variety of customers, adding Fabkids and a new women’s action wear line. These efforts at providing a more rounded inventory to draw in different demographics paid off–The company was placed inside the top 100 at 98 on the list, as well as being the 36th ranked fastest growing e-retailer. The company opened a 3,000-square-foot concept store, and continues to collect data to help provide customers with the deals and products they want.

6. The Clymb was able to take the #290 spot with the help of Gilt Groupe Inc., to which the outdoor eRetailer, has now outsourced fulfillment. Doing this has reduced fulfillment and delivery times by about seven days, with about 95% of orders for physical goods shipping within 24 hours. This streamlined delivery time certainly helped the company achieve a 40.3% CAGR over five years. By leveraging email and onsite behavioral data, we have also helped The Clymb increase their revenue by 11.8% and purchases 8.2% in of January 2015.

Check out the guide for yourself and it’ll be clear that innovative approaches to ecommerce help drive significant gains. Most of the brands that made the top 500 aren’t running traditional models for ecommerce; they’re going above and beyond. These companies make it their business to provide second-to-none customer experience while simultaneously solving problems and building communities.

The result?

–Jess Farris, Sr. Customer Success Director at Sailthru.