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John Lewis launches m-web site to build on the 100,000 mobile shoppers a week it already gets

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With a 100,000 users already coming into its website every week via mobile, John Lewis Partnership has launched a fully mobile optimized version of its website to service this vast number of mobile customers and to transform the company into a multi-channel retailer.

Eschewing apps – for now at least – for an m-web service optimized for all web-enabled handsets, the company becomes the latest in a growing list of leading retailers to optimize for mobile, rather than slowly roll out apps.

Customers can access the new site from their mobile by typing m.johnlewis.com into their browser. Alternatively they can type www.johnlewis.com and it will automatically redirect to the optimized version for the site.

The retailer is launching the functional and transactional mobile site, which can be easily accessed from any internet-enabled mobile phone, to understand customers' needs before considering the further development of mobile applications.

The mobile site does, however, act as an enabler for a mobile application and John Lewis is looking at app development once the site itself has been successfully launched. Plans are currently being scoped out for an app, which will be focused more on the experience and personal relationship that customers have with the retailer. John Lewis is looking at early 2011 for a potential launch.

“At John Lewis we took the decision to develop our mobile website first because we wanted to make sure all our customers could access the full John Lewis assortment from their mobile phone and have a seamless experience when doing so,” Jonathon Brown, Head of Online Selling at John Lewis tells M-Retailing. “We've seen that increasingly people have been visiting our website from mobile devices so it was the most suitable progression for us to make.

“Mobile is a vital part of our vision to become the leading multi-channel retailer in the UK, so watch this space for future developments,” Brown, adds. “. It aims to compliment what we are doing on the full site, in store and in catalogue. Our plan is to promote its existence across the various customer touch points.”

The new mobile site has been created by the user experience and web design team at John Lewis, and developed in partnership with a specialist third party, Usablenet, which, along with Mobile Interactive Group (MIG), was also responsible for M&S’s mobile site launch in May, which has so far had more than 1.3million unique hits.

The mobile site is integrated with the checkout of the main site at johnlewis.com. A customer can log in with the same details to their existing account without having to create a separate one. Customers will also be able to register through the mobile platform.

“Traffic from mobile devices now equates to over 100,000 visitors on a weekly basis,: says Brown. “Over time, and with a mobile-optimised platform, we expect this to increase significantly.”

Initially, the company is looking for its existing mobile customers and word of mouth to generate traffic to the mobile site and will eventually look at email marketing and mobile marketing to drive take up.

“Whilst we have plans for wider mobile marketing for now our strategy will be to gradually build awareness through email marketing and by announcing the site on the home page on johnlewis.com,” says Brown. “Because we know our customers, our expectation is that much of the initial traffic we build will be a result of word of mouth.”
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