The 2019 SBIA Awards are open and we’re eager to receive your Submissions.   This year we’ve outlined the process step-by-step and we’ll be providing you with plenty of helpful hints and advice from our expert judging panels along the way.

This week, we have obtained some handy advice from Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director of the Australian Retailers Association on putting together a submission for the Australian Retailer of the Year Award (Single and Multi-door) category.

So, before you start working on your awards submission, take 5 to pick up some tips from one of Australia’s leading retail experts.

Russell Zimmerman | Executive Director Australian Retailers Association

SBIA:  Putting an awards submission together can seem like a daunting task to begin with.  Before a business decides to embark on this process, can you outline some of the benefits to participating in the awards?

Russell:  Before writing the submission you need to gather all your ideas and data for the award you’re looking to enter and win. One of the great benefits of this is, it allows a retailer to really think about their business (stocktake their processes, ideas, methods, and all their practices). This will often tell a retailer where there are gaps in their business, or where they could be doing a little better at how they run and operate their stores. It will also give them a sense of what they are doing well, and why or who in the business is achieving tasks that gives the retail business an edge on their competition.    

SBIA:  Before you start your submission, what are some key tips to getting prepared for the process?

Russell:  Preparation and an overview of your business is most important, gather all the details, look through the questions that are asked, consider how the judges might want the answers.  It is much simpler for the judges if there are a series of questions and you make certain you follow the order of the questions with answers to each, prepare your answers before committing them making sure you have fully read and understood the question/s asked.

Consider giving details that will support your answers; as an example, if there is a question on business turnover, consider giving proof of how your business has grown by attaching reports from your accounting package. Remember that the information you provide is private and confidential and will not be shared with anyone other than the judging panel.

SBIA:  The first question that we ask is to provide a background to your business, whilst this question is context only, what should our retailers be looking to include here?

Russell:  When I read the responses to the question on a background to a business, I in many cases do not know that particular retailer. If the retailer has answered the question well, I will know how the business started, why the retailer purchased that particular business (if it was not from start up), the demographics of the customers, the type and range of the goods sold by the retailer, an overview of the retailers business plan (i.e Growth past and future growth) staffing levels and what makes the retailer unique from the competition. Often photos of the interior and exterior are helpful, and if the retailer has been given from their customers “bouquets” or customer write up about their business then include those.  

SBIA: Keeping in mind that judges read several awards submissions, what are some of the key things that will help a submission stand out?

Russell:  Answering the question in full and not skipping over responses or sections of questions is very important.   Information that is real, earlier I suggested that a copy of the P&L or similar documentation is supplied to support a question. If a retailer is talking about growth of their business and they “state” that they are growing by XX % per year, I want to see some real proof, if the retailer talks about customers giving compliments then provide those compliments. Submissions that provide me “proof” of what the retailer is saying tend to stand out. Pictures which illustrate a point or proof of customers that have given the retailer a great “wrap” which can be proven all tend to be submissions that judges view as being genuine  

SBIA:  What are the ramifications if you don’t answer a question in full i.e not obtain the best possible score for an individual question, therefore affecting your overall result.

Russell:  Generally when a question is only half answered, judges will only give a partial score, if a question is worth 10 points and only half an answer is given, it is often the case that the retailer has not taken time to prepare the responses, often the question wont even receive a 50% mark, it will often be less as when questions aren’t answered, it tends to be a sloppy answer that is given. You might get a 3 or 4 points for a poorly answered response. 

SBIA:  When answering any of the questions, is there a format or structure you can suggest to make it easier?

Russell:  If entrants follow the format and sequence of the questions, this makes the judges job so much easier, we have to review each question and make certain that it has been answered. If we are presented the responses in sequence to the questions, it makes our job much quicker and less time consuming. Remember that we often have many submissions to review, if our job is easy, and we find the answers to the questions in a simple format that follows the sequence and don’t have to “go looking” for the answer, you are more likely to get a higher score. 

Finally don’t embellish your answers, you may not be believed and a judge may pick up the phone to check to see if the claim you made is really truthful.

SBIA: If your business is lucky enough to win an SBIA Award, what are some of the things that a business can do to shout this from roof tops?

RussellUse the award to promote your business, in advertising, social media, at the end of your email signature (particularly when responding to clients) and advise your local paper, they love to publicise award winners.  NOTE: first check with SBIA first if there is a criteria on how you can use the logo or sponsors information by contacting Lyndall on

Once you have the approval you have 12 months in which you can use the win to promote how good your business actually is. DO NOT use the win in five years’ time when others have won the award to say that in 2015 XYZ was the winner of the SBIA award, unless you continue to win the same award.

We hope this has helped with navigating through the awards submission process.  As a quick reminder, please review the following points in relation to your submission:

  • All entries must be submitted in a PDF document with all questions answered and photos included. All video links must also be included within this document.
  • Once completed, please upload your completed PDF submission to your dropbox.
  • Your dropbox should also include a high-resolution JPEG of your logo
  • All submissions must include the following information on the front page:
    • Company Name
    • Store Name & Location
    • Category entered – SINGLE DOOR or MULTI DOOR
    • Contact Name
    • Role
    • Contact Phone
    • Contact Email

Nomination forms can be downloaded here

The SBIA Awards team are also on hand to answer any questions you may have in relation to the awards process.   Please do not hesitate to reach out

We look forward to receiving your submission and celebrating with you on the 24th of October, 2019.