One of Australia’s biggest retail awards has been criticised for a blunder which saw it place multi-million-dollar brands as finalists of a category for small retailers.
The mistake has since been amended after staff were made aware of the bungle.
Concerns were first raised about the finalists of the 2019 ORIAS awards in June after retailers noticed companies earning as much as $10 million listed as finalists of an award for retailers earning less than $2 million.
The blunder saw online designer rental retailer Glamcorner listed as a finalist of the small retailer category in June despite having a revenue of more than $10 million.
Black Swallow, Dessertboxes and Seed & Sprout, with revenue of $10 million, $5 million and $4 million respectively, were also listed as finalists in the small business category – which was specifically reserved for “online retailers with less than $2 million revenue.”
The finalists have since been reshuffled by Australia Post – the organiser of the awards – with Glamcorner moved to the large retailer category.
Meanwhile, Black Swallow have since confirmed their revenue is $10 million and contacted Australia Post to be removed from the small retailer category.
Retailbiz understands that Australia Post moved Glamcorner after becoming aware of the discrepancy.
The rejig leaves seven finalists in the large retailer category despite the T&Cs stating that “at the end of the Competition Period, the Sponsor will shortlist the top 6 Merchants for each category large & small.”
One worker who first noticed the error, Rebecca White, said it was a letdown for small retailers.
“For small retailers, it seemed encouraging to receive Australia Post’s support with an award supposedly dedicated to them, and in which they were perceiving a chance to win!.”
Sydney-based small-business owner who entered the category, Josephine, who did not wish to provide her surname, said her and her friends in the sector were shocked when they saw the result.
“When I saw it I thought it was a mistake. I still think it most probably is [a mistake] but after they didn’t want to correct the mistake that’s where it became suspicious.”
The failure of Australia Post to give the sector an explanation for the error has confused retailers, she said.
“They didn’t give any explanation about it and there’s still another retailer in the small category and lot of articles say they make more than $5 million.”
The fact the competition was promoted as providing an opportunity for small business entrants was unfair, Josephine says.
“Australia Post attract a lot of small retailers who think they can win and these small retailers advertise for them and then the award we’re supposed to enter in does not exist. I feel like it’s more like two awards for larger retailers.”
A spokesperson at Australia Post said the company has been made aware of the error and that retailers themselves are responsible for registering for the awards.
“Australia Post has always relied on entrants to provide honest and accurate information when self-nominating, and we have acted in good faith at all times to maintain the integrity of the competition.”
The spokesperson said the company will be evaluating the nomination process to see “where [they] can apply more rigour to it.”
The winners of the awards will be announced on Thursday July 25th.
Glamcorner, Dessertboxes, Seed & Sprout and Black Swallow have been contacted for comment.