Jonathon Brown is Head of Online at John Lewis, and has played a key role in integrating the website with the rest of the company's operations, as part of its multichannel approach to retail.
We don't want to give too much away before the JUMP presentation, so I've been asking him about some other areas of John Lewis' multichannel strategy...
How effective have in store kiosks been in driving sales?
Customers want to be able to use the channel they want at any time. As part of this multichannel approach, the website is key, as is mobile and catalogues. There are a myriad of touchpoints that we provide for customers. So customers can order in store, from our contact centre, or from the website
Kiosks are an important part of this multichannel approach, and they have been successful at driving significant volumes of sales through our stores.
We provide the option if customers cannot find what they want in store, or if they want to order something from the website with the convenience of having it delivered to the store.
These kiosks drive hundreds of sales every week from each of our stores.
You have been opening smaller At Home stores recently – are the kiosks central to this strategy?
Yes, it’s about providing the convenience of a local John Lewis store for customers, though without the full department store offering. We use the kiosks and our online capacity as a way of extending the range of products available to customers through these stores.
These At Home stores are driving greater usage of our in store ordering options. It works the other way too. For example, the Croydon store drives the highest percentage of click and collect orders of any of our branches.
Another interesting point to note is that, when we open a new store, online sales from that area increase. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it shows that having a brand presence in the catchment area can drive sales through all channels
With one channel driving transactions that take place in another as in the case with reserve and collect, how do you apportion credit for sales?
We run a catchment area approach, so we look at the locality of sales and the share of customer spend in each local area, whether it is online, through a contact centre, or a local store.
It’s a very cross-functional approach, we using all channels to drive all the sales, and recognise that they all contribute.
For example, we can drive incremental stores in sales from customers who arrive to collect products they reserve online. We encourage them to buy more in a number of ways. So in the Glasgow store, we give customers a voucher which entitles them to a free coffee in the café, and this encourages them to spend a bit more time in the store.
What were the major challenges in implementing multichannel at John Lewis?
The pace of change was one of the major challenges, trying to run very quickly to deliver change while still maintaining the quality of service. The company quickly grasped the idea that a multichannel approach was important, and this has reaped dividends.
You mentioned mobile before, but you don’t currently have a site. Is this something you are planning?
We’ll be announcing this very soon. In fact, by the time I speak at Jump, I’ll be talking about our new mobile offering.
Have you opted for a mobile site or an app? Will it be transactional?
We’ll start with a mobile site, though apps may follow. The customer feedback is that, while apps are great, the mobile site is the best approach. It will also be a fully transactional mobile website.