LONDON — One of the earliest U.K. retailers to get behind click-and-collect was John Lewis, which introduced the shopping concept in 2008, eventually rolling out the service to its Waitrose supermarket chain.
The service has grown substantially over the years, with the retailer adding new elements to enhance the customer experience. John Lewis is trialing in-store beacon technology so that it can shorten delivery times and ideally get packages to customers while they are still browsing in-store via a mobile phone alert.
Sienne Veit, director of online product at John Lewis, spoke about the rise of mobile technology, the “master shopper,” and the retailer’s latest digital initiatives.
She said the consumer shift to mobile has grown with portable devices becoming today’s “shop window.” As a result, the company has aimed for a seamless fashion experience when designing their shopping channels for an increasingly impatient, digitally savvy consumer.
“Our shopper knows what she wants, where she wants it, how she wants it. And she wants it as soon as she can get it,” Veit said. “She’s gone to social media. She’s checked out every possible source of inspiration. She’s sought out advice from her friends. She knows not just one retailer’s product — she knows them all. She can move from site to site and find the best price, the most available stock and the best delivery service. That’s really key. So we need to make sure that we can provide an experience that is absolutely fit for this master shopper and what she wants. The power has shifted to the customer.”
Veit said consumers are consulting the computer screen, the mobile screen — and the shop floor — before they make their purchases.
“When you come into a John Lewis store you get the best possible impartial advice,” she said. “But the sale, the actual transaction, might not happen in the shop, it might happen elsewhere. Equally, the shop might be where you pick up your goods, it might be a distribution or a fulfillment center. So we need to think about the role of online shops differently.”
The retailer has also amped up its online customer service, offering wish lists and personal styling appointments. It has also introduced a new feature called “Find Similar,” which discovers multiple items that closely resemble a customer search.
It has also upgraded its loyalty program, and customers can now access their My John Lewis card via the store’s app. Users can scan in their purchases via the app and they are awarded points, while the company is able to gather their personal data and use it to create more personalized communication.
The app also features an area that stores receipts from in-store or online purchases.
“It’s also beneficial because it means that when someone asks me ‘Where did you get those shoes?’ I can give a product number,” Veit said. “Even if I bought them last year, the information is in my account. That is fantastic for customers because they don’t have to remember stuff, they can just know that it’s all there in one place.”
Veit said the store’s “secret sauce” comes from a mix of polling customers and testing new initiatives in the London stores.
“We have brought our customers into our head office. There is a big customer lab and we bring in customers and take them through their own shopping missions. Our team is watching from the viewing room, to deeply understand our customers’ needs. But we also bring people from around the business into the viewing room so that they can understand our customers, too. The entire organization can now be focused on customer and making sure that we are creating propositions that are inspiring and also easy to use and seamless.”