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ANALYSIS Waitrose and John Lewis move closer together, offline as well as online

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Online shoppers have seen the Waitrose and John Lewis brands moving closer together in recent times.

Last Christmas, for example, the windows of the Brighton Waitrose store became a temporary home for John Lewis QR codes, so that Waitrose shoppers could buy from the department store via their smartphone. And John Lewis shoppers have been able to collect their online orders from a growing number of Waitrose shops over the last two years. That’s helped the retailer to double its Click and Collect sales over the last year, as evidenced by today’s weekly sales update from the department store. And with online sales up by 45% in the week to November 3, helping to fuel a 17.9% sales rise across the group, online and multichannel continues to go from strength to strength for the retailer.

But this week saw the link between the two go beyond the virtual, with the Ipswich opening of the first Waitrose alongside a John Lewis ‘at home’ store, the format that showcases the department store’s full range through digital in-store solutions.

The computer screens in the new two-storey at home shop in Ipswich allow shoppers to browse the wider John Lewis assortment including fashion, beauty, carpets and order for home delivery or next day collection at the shop.

Meanwhile digital also has its place in the next-door Waitrose, with the ability to shop in-store and have goods delivered to the home, or via for home delivery.

It’s a move, says John Lewis, that resonates with shoppers.

“In what is a challenging economic climate, it is great to see the investment that is being made in the town and we are looking forward to seeing the reaction of shoppers to our stores being alongside each other in this way for the first time,” said Nigel Keen, property and development director at Waitrose.

Other retailers will see a useful way of connecting two brands on the high street as well as on the digital highway. Here, digital frees up space to house two brands where John Lewis might once have occupied all the space alone. The move additionally underlines the trend towards smaller but more frequent outlets, given the growing influence of the internet on sales. Click and collect takes up relatively little space but makes a high street work more efficiently for the retailer that offers it and the shoppers who live nearby.

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