John Lewis: a reputation for innovation
John Lewis , long beloved by middle England as the most dependable of retailers, is these days adding a name for innovation to its trademark customer service.
InternetRetailing research shows that the department store is reliable in its response to shoppers’ questions and complaints, as well as having effective logistics services that deliver on customers’ expectations. Flexible options for home delivery include standard, next-day and named-day delivery, while those preferring to pick up items can do so either at any local shop that’s a member of the Collect+ network, or from any of John Lewis’s own branches. Smart strategic thinking means that shoppers can also pick up John Lewis orders at any branch of sister company Waitrose – and 70% of John Lewis click-and-collect orders were indeed picked up this way in its last financial year. Click and collect accounted for more than half of all johnlewis.com online orders in the year to January 2016.
But its ability to embed innovation at the heart of its business gives it an edge in this Dimension. The retailer has developed a talent for showing how emerging retail ideas can work for its customers. Thus, it has a smart home technology department that shows how connected ovens, fridges and sleep monitors would actually sit within the home.
John Lewis also actively fosters innovation through its start-up accelerator programme, JLAB. Speaking at the launch of the latest programme, which ran through the summer, John Lewis IT director Paul Coby said: “JLAB is about bringing disruption and innovation to the retail industry – we want to develop ideas that really excite John Lewis shoppers. To do this, it’s essential that we work collaboratively with fast-growing businesses to add value to their operations.” He added, “We’ve seen from previous years the value of combining an agile start-up mentality with John Lewis’ extensive industry knowledge, and I’m personally looking forward to working with the 2016 applicants.”
This year the retailer added to this by working with TrueStart to launch The Eureka Initiative, which aims to find and fund future-defining products, services and technologies. Tom Athron, group development director, said: “The John Lewis Partnership began life as a brave entrepreneurial experiment. By collaborating with TrueStart we will be supporting the future growth of our company by partnering with like-minded entrepreneurs and fast-tracking their ideas. I firmly believe that all businesses focused on growth in a rapidly changing world will need a few eureka moments to thrive.”