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Walmart Tops Retail Innovators

Category Can’t Break Overall Top 50 Innovative Companies List

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Walmart topped a list of Top 10 innovative companies in the retail sector, and was the only legacy retailer to make the list. In a broader look at innovation across all sectors, however, no retailer made the top 50.

Fast Company release their 2024 list earlier this month. Each spot was noted with the reasons a company gained that spot. Walmart’s excerpt is below:

Walmart: For meeting customers where they are, even if it’s at home. (The retailer was cited for building a frictionless e-commerce experience for its Walmart+ paid loyalty program, including its Return from Home option that sends employees to members’ homes to pick up items. Also,Fast Company noted that Walmart now has ultrafast delivery drones in 37 hubs across seven states.)

The rest of the Top 10 in retail:

Archive: For making clothing resale as easy as scan and click. (Launched in 2021, the resale system company works with more than 40 global brands, including The North Face.)

Erewhon: For turning a grocery store into a designer brand. (With 10 locations, the L.A. area health food grocery store chain is a favorite of celebrities and locals alike. Its smoothies, launched in partnership with high-profile celeb influencers, are a huge money maker.)

GlossGenius: For giving spa and salon owners the best tools of the trade. (The company’s platform handles bookings and payments for more than 60,000 salons and spas, generating revenue from both subscriptions and commission on payments.)

Babylist: For being a one-stop shop for new parents. (In 2023, the online baby registry giant opened its first physical store and also expanded its offerings with the launch of Babylist Health, which helps visitors find health and wellness products and services whose purchased can be covered using their health insurance.)

Optero: For bringing the returns process right to customers’ doors. (In 2024, the returns company launched an at-home pickup service which is now available in 40 cities. Optero uses the data it collects on returns to help its retail partners identify which customers are loyal to a store and what their return habits are.)

Whatnot: For cornering the market on collectibles and live shopping. (A livestream shopping app, Whatnot connects buyers and sellers of all sort sof collectibles, from sports cards to comics to sneakers.)

Queen of Raw: For finding life in deadstock fabrics. (The company’s marketplace connects sellers of unused fabric with buyers that include factories, retailers and brands.)

RetailNext: For giving retailers access to first-party data and preventing theft in real time. (Used by more than 450 retailers, RetailNext, among other things, tracks sales and shoppers via in-store cameras and sensors.)

Angara: For turning every customer into a jewelry designer. (The online jeweler lets customers use an AI-powered tool to design and create unique jewelry pieces within their budget.)

As noted, retailers failed to crack the overall Top 50 list of innovative companies. (Fast Company broke businesses down into more than 50 individual sectors.) Below, with short explanations, are the overall Top 50 for 2024, according to Fast Company:

Nvidia: For bringing the chips to the AI party

Novo Nordisk: For unlocking the full potential of Ozempic

Microsoft: For making artificial intelligence real for the business world

United Auto Workers: For electrifying the labor movement

National Women's Soccer League: For resetting the value of women's sports

Gensler: For remodeling abandoned office spaces into homes

YouTube: For winning the living room

Taco Bell: For showing the world that tacos are a state of mind

OpenAI: For building on the boom it generated

KinetX : For charting a path to distant asteroids—and back again

Vertex Pharmaceuticals: For infusing the first CRISPR treatment into the market

J.M. Smucker: For demonstrating that PB&J plus R&D can be a BFD

USAFacts: For harvesting government data to inform citizens and lawmakers

Sphere Entertainment : For dazzling audiences, even by Vegas standards

Taylor Swift Productions: For reimagining the business of concerts, music, and movies

Parkwood Entertainment: For using a blockbuster tour as the world's largest fashion runway

Mattel: For refashioning a heritage brand into a modern cultural event

Loop Earplugs: For designing ear protection that people want to wear

Redwood Materials: For inventing a new way to recycle EV battery materials

Climeworks: For putting direct air capture on the map

Perplexity: For locating the answer to the perennial problems of web search

Nubank: For transforming bank security into a covetable set of features

Hybe: For turning K-pop into peak commercial art

Husk Power Systems: For decarbonizing the grid in places with historically unreliable power

REX: For giving the World Trade Center site a forward-looking theater

Kraft Heinz: For catering to the condiment-obsessed consumer

Mill Industries: For trashing food waste

Chipotle: For updating its menu at the speed of TikTok

Hopper: For taking the pain out of the travel-booking process—wherever you are

Google: For picturing the future of the AI phone today

Brightline: For accelerating U.S. rail service

WhatsApp: For broadening its appeal by letting users narrow their focus

Adobe: For embracing generative AI the right way

Symbotic: For speeding up warehouse robots, even in the dark

Vanta: For offering startups tools to trust, but verify—in the age of AI

Zipline: For flying delivery drones out of sight

Gogoro: For supercharging electric scooter adoption

Credo AI: For empowering enterprises to manage AI risks

Sol de Janeiro: For dropping new fragrances at an intoxicating pace

4 Day Week Global: For convincing the world that a four-day week actually works

Hyrox: For invigorating gym rats with a global fitness competition

Plaid: For facilitating money's real-time future For harnessing AI to expedite lifesaving diagnoses

Bicycle Health: For finding new ways to help vulnerable people treat their opioid use disorder

Universal Music Group: For rethinking how musicians are paid in the AI era

Uncommon: For executing one helluva high-stakes rebrand

Pivot Bio: For producing a more sustainable crop fertilizer

Slingshot Aerospace: For keeping an eye on the (crowded) sky

Campus: For creating a national online community college For beknighting chess as must-watch TV

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