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John Lewis introduces concierge service as it reinvents the department store

John Lewis introduces concierge service as it reinvents the department store

John Lewis today unveiled its latest take on the 21st century customer experience at a new store that puts services at the heart of retail.

Services and experiences, from eye tests and nail bars to car fitting advice and technology training, will take up a fifth of the floorspace at the new store, set to open in Oxford next Tuesday. Service staff working at a central “experience desk” led by a “brand experience manager” will take a concierge-style role as they help customers plan their day, bookthem into a workshop, match them with a style or home design adviser, or find them a table in the rooftop restaurant.

Staff from Oxford Playhouse were drafted in to train all the 322 staff at the new store in voice and body language skills. Their new approach to customer service will include hotel-style tours of the store, while staff uniforms will be based on pieces in John Lewis’ own-brand Kin clothing range.

Paula Nickolds, managing director at John Lewis , an Elite retailer in IRUK Top500 research, said: ‘As part of our plans to differentiate the John Lewis brand and to reinvent the department store for the 21st century, our shops continue to be a place where customers come and experience our brand – the physical manifestation of what we stand for.

‘More than a route to selling things, our Oxford shop is a place that aims to inspire and delight our customers and is entirely focused on customer experience with Partners and finishing details at the heart of that.’

Julie Blake, head of branch at John Lewis Oxford, and a partner at the business of 33 years standing, said; ‘I was thrilled to be asked to run John Lewis’s 49th shop and help shape the future of this and other shops.

‘My team and I cannot wait to welcome customers into the shop and tell them about all it has to offer; from pampering to fashion advice, dinner at our fantastic new rooftop Scandinavian restaurant, and workshops on and demonstrations on the very latest tech products.”

Our view: We’re interested to see what we think is a significant step forward in the evolution of the physical store, at a time when more and more shopping is moving online. Like other retailers, John Lewis is recognising the need to offer something beyond the products themselves, in the form of a brand experience. That move is overtly acknowledged in the terminology, from the experience desk to the brand experience manager. What will be even more interesting to see is how customers will respond.

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