John Lewis Partnership is radically rethinking how it interacts with its customers both in-store and via mobile, pledging to be one of the first UK retailers to launch an app-based service enabling customers to keep in touch with their personal stylist.
As part of the launch of the retailer’s 50th shop in Westfield London, John Lewis is looking to develop a more experiential shopping platform – part of which will see the store feature a John Lewis’s first ‘Style Studio’, a 700 sq ft place for men or women with a passion for fashion to enjoy a one on one, or group style consultation.
Customers will be able to choose which of the five personal stylists they want to style them in one of seven different style and beauty advice appointments - from assistance with getting ready for a special event, to a wardrobe refresh in addition to two options which include make-up, beauty treatments and afternoon tea.
They will then be alerted by text or email about products based on their personal preferences, customers will be able to find out when a new collection has arrived from their favourite brand, or if a product they love is going into price match.
The new store – which is 230,000 sq ft and the anchor of the £600m Westfield London extension, at White City – will offer customers new things to do and learn every time they visit. These include daily fashion style talks, cookery masterclasses in a demonstration kitchen, and beauty treatments in either the &Beauty Express Nail & Brow Bar, or Hair and Beauty Salon.
In addition, inside John Lewis’s first ever ’Discovery Room’ customers can learn a vast array of new skills from expert Partners such as how to perfectly light a room, how to make a house a smart home and hang a picture perfectly.
The shop will also have an Experience Desk and lounge where specially trained Partners will provide a ’concierge style’ service. These Partners will consult customers on their needs, recommend solutions from the 23 different services on offer from home design advice to travel advice, book appointments with expert Partners, and reserve tickets for events happening in store.
The move is all part of the revamp of retail locations from being about selling inventory to offering experiences. Shoppers are changing, with millennials being driven to want experiences that they can share on twitter rather than stuff they can buy – which only affords them one tweet.
Paula Nickolds, Managing Director of John Lewis explains: “Retail is changing but today’s department shop is as relevant as it ever has been in responding to the needs of our customers. This shop demonstrates our latest thinking on how the department store can be a place in which you can shop, do and learn in a way you haven’t been able to before. We’re bringing to West London a new level of personalised, curated shopping which until now has been the preserve of boutique shops.”
She continues: “This shop offers customers something different. You can get style advice for yourself or your home, learn a new skill, play with the latest smart home technology and so much more. It’s also a place where we can build a far more personal relationship with our customers - bringing together the very best of our service offer and our outstanding Partners.”
The shop will stock over 150,000 products and more than 1,000 brands. In addition to the company’s popular own fashion and home brands the shop will be the first in the UK to sell much loved US denim brand Madewell.
Customers seeking the very latest technology can enjoy the first fully immersive Apple Smart Home experience in a retail space in Europe. Using the dedicated Apple Home app and using Siri as their home assistant visitors will be able to control smart devices from lighting to thermostats, windows to home monitoring and security in three home living areas - entrance, bedroom and lounge.
John Lewis has also invested heavily in training to give its Partners the new skills needed for modern retailing. Every one of the shop’s 500 Partners has been sent to theatre training run by the National Theatre to help them really engage customers and provide outstanding customer service.
Personal Stylists have been trained at the London College of Style and by renowned stylist and former Vogue Fashion Director, Lucinda Chambers, who taught them how to translate high fashion catwalk trends to the shopfloor.
John Lewis isn’t the only store launching a revamped and experience-led offering in the new Westfield extension: H&M is also opening its doors tomorrow on a new store, this time featuring as its nod to experience led retailing a nail bar run in conjunction with Go Gorgeous London and an in-house DJ.
"The White City relaunch is an exciting opportunity for us to be able to bring our customers an updated shopping experience, at Westfield and we are delighted to be able to introduce our first ever nail bar in the UK, which we hope our customers will love," says Carlos Duarte, H&M’s country manager for the UK and Ireland.