John Lewis is testing a range of different ways of selling its goods in branches of Waitrose – as part of its strategy to get closer to its shoppers. The department store aims to sell through 280 branches of its sister supermarket, while also reaching customers through digital, virtual and delivery channels.
The department store started trialling sales of its products at two branches of its sister supermarket, at Lincoln and Lymington, more than a year ago. Now, says a spokesperson for the retailer, it is testing different versions of the concept in three more stores, adding a separate and dedicated department at the front of its Wallingford shop, where shoppers can choose from more than 700 products. In Goldalming, it is selling a range of more than 500 products in the Waitrose general merchandise aisles. And in Horley, it is selling the same range of 500 items while also locating products alongside the relevant product area within the supermarket – so wine glasses can be found in the wine department, and cafetières next to ground coffee.
This, says John Lewis, is part of its goal of selling John Lewis products in each of the 280 Waitrose stores that currently sell general merchandise, first outlined in the autumn and expected to be complete by the end of this year.
The move to make John Lewis products available well beyond its own stores comes at a time when the business has cut the size of its estate to 42 shops, after eight of the 50 it ran a year ago did not reopen from the first lockdown. There have been reports that the retailer will close more of its larger stores, but as yet they are unconfirmed.
John Lewis, a Leading retailer in RXUK Top500 research, is working on the assumption that 70% of its sales will take place online by 2025 – 60% of sales were already online by October. It has previously said it will invest £1bn in a five-year plan to reach its customers in ways beyond its stores. Its tools include virtual services such as personal styling and home design, and an expanding click and collect network that will eventually include 1,000 sites. At the same time it aims to make both Waitrose and John Lewis “the go-to brands for customers that care about quality, value and sustainability,” in the words of Nina Bhatia, executive director of strategy and commercial development at the John Lewis Partnership.