There’s been a lot of talk in recent days about the effect the new John Lewis ad has had on its online channel.
The week that the Never Knowingly Undersold ad debuted, the week to April 24, or so the story , sales at Johnlewis.com goes, rose by 39.7% compared to the same week in the previous year. What a great thought – that sales could be driven up so very dramatically by 90 seconds of, admittedly beautifully produced and admittedly doing well on You Tube, schmaltz.
But a closer glance at the figures reveals that in fact the multichannel store had been enjoying high levels of increased internet sales for weeks before that. And, indeed, since the department store’s weekly figures are reported a week later, a glance at the retailer’s figures shows that sales on johnlewis.com in the week that the ad debuted on April 24 (so right at the end of the week) were actually 28.3% up on the previous year. The 39.7% rise was actually for the week before the ad.
That’s a good performance, but not as good as the 57.1% rise turned in the week to April 3, or the 41.3% lift in the week to April 10.
So if the advert can’t be held entirely responsible for the success, what is the reason for this dramatic uplift? The first thing to say is that John Lewis is not alone. Online retailers across the board have been reporting sharp rises in their sales. Debenhams for one recently reported its online sales were up by 85.9%.
At the same time a number of reports have shown a steep rise in the number of people now shopping online. The recent joint report by the British Population Survey and IMRG showed that for the first time more than 50% of the UK adult population now shops online.
So maybe the real reason for this sales lift is a combination of the fact that more people are shopping online, together with the fact that online sales are generally improving – pointing to a real uplift across e-commerce.
And maybe the more obvious point to be drawn from the recent Johnlewis.com sales rises is that this is a retailer that’s got online right, and has worked it into a multichannel strategy that rings true – and works for consumers. It also stands to illustrate what other retailers can achieve by taking multichannel seriously – rather than by assuming the answer is to emulate John Lewis no further than by spending £6m on an ad campaign.