UK department store John Lewis is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading omni-channel retailers but the brand says its “to-do list is as long as anyone else’s”.
Simon Russell, the director of retail operations and development at John Lewis, told B&T the next three to five years are keys for the British retailer as it moves to deliver its ‘shop of the future vision’.
“What is clear is that we are going through a retail revolution with non-food retailers facing into a ‘once in a lifetime’ requirement to make some changes to their business,” Russell said.
“It is on par with the birth of the supermarket for the grocers.”
Customers need to be able to trust a retailer to put things right if something goes awry, they expect a wide “but edited choice” of products, fair prices and a great experience.
“They want retailers to make things easy for them right through their journey irrespective of channel (they shop with the brand not a channel within the brand),” he said.
“Understand customers needs is key, across all channels, ensuring experience differentiates from others.
“Buying routine things will gradually move online for most, so shops have to offer something more to add something to the experience.”
This includes the ability to feel products, offering expert advice, instant gratification, social experiences, theatre and events.
“Where the final transaction is made is another question,” he added. “How close are we? My to-do list is as long as anyone else’s. But I think the next three to five years are key.”
In April this year John Lewis’ achieved the milestone of exceeding £1bn ($1.73 bn) in online revenue.
Asked about potential offshore expansion plans Russell said John Lewis’ physical estate remains in the UK.
“Australia is one of the more popular countries for our online business largely driven by expats who know the brand well. Our key focus remains on the UK where we are still growing in bricks as well as clicks.”
Simon Russell’s top three tips for online retail success:
- Have a compelling proposition that differentiates from your competitors (unique products, best value, fastest free fulfilment).
- Make things easy for customers (eg search, checkout).
- Know your customers (eg. Personalise).
Meanwhile, David Jones has launched its ‘click and collect’ service – something Russell said is now “critical” in the UK.
A David Jones release announcing the launch of its Christmas Shops said the omni channel retailing strategy, including ‘click and collect’ will be available nationally from this Thursday August 28.
However, its ‘click and collect’ option has launched online offering next day pickup if products are ordered by 12pm.