John Lewis is investing £150 million in two new distribution facilities – part of a five-year, £500 million investment in its online systems and distribution network. The partnership says its aim is to “create a customer-not-channel approach to its operations”. This follows the department store’s £100m investment in its existing Magna Park site in Milton Keynes, with the new sites creating 500 jobs which will double at peak times.
Operational efficiency and cost control are at the heart of the move. John Lewis says that by consolidating fashion and non-fashion items into one delivery, the new centre will mean 850,000 fewer parcels will be delivered each year, and 190,000 less miles will be covered by delivery vehicles.
The building is also the national hub of the ‘two-man’ delivery, used for larger items such as sofas and white goods. Centralising this service simplifies the whole process and will allow customers to receive their orders faster than ever before by supporting next day deliveries.
For the first time, says John Lewis, the Magna Park 2 campus will combine online orders for hanging and flat fashion and non-fashion items in one parcel (such as a dress and handbag, a suit and an iPad, or a jacket and moisturiser). The six level automated hanging system is capable of sorting and carrying 1.6 million garments at any one time and will be responsible for the fulfillment of around 225,000 different products.
Now one of the biggest distribution centres in Europe, John Lewis’s Magna Park campus will also provide consolidated and more frequent deliveries to all 46 shops, which will receive daily replenishment deliveries as well as the Click and Collect orders.
The new facility will make possible fast replenishment to branches and meet needs of customers who want quick and convenient delivery and fast replenishment of branches.
The move comes as part of John Lewis’s anticipation of changing customer needs, which has seen the percentage of customer orders being delivered move from 4% to 47% in the last ten years.
To ensure customers receive consistent service from John Lewis distribution Partners, Magna Park 3 houses a specialist training centre to give Partners the expert skills to safely deliver and install products from wall-mounted televisions and lighting to washing machines and flat-packed furniture.
John Lewis recently introduced live chat on johnlewis.com and text messages direct from the ‘green van fleet’ when a delivery is on its way. A hub has also been launched which provides customer service teams end-to-end visibility of customer deliveries through the whole journey and provides Partners with the information required to quickly resolve customer queries.
Dino Rocos, operations director at John Lewis said:
“These new state-of-the-art-facilities are the latest piece in the John Lewis distribution jigsaw. Our customers expect John Lewis customer experience, not just in our shops, but at every stage of their purchase. This service-led distribution centre will ensure our Partners deliver the John Lewis magic direct to our customers’ homes.
“Not only will this also help customers receive their orders quicker and in fewer parcels, but fewer driving miles and less packaging will help reduce our operational emissions and waste.
“Our distribution operations are at the heart of our business and these advanced facilities enable us to adapt to the ever-evolving retail market. Customers want quick and convenient deliveries and fast replenishment of our shops, this investment puts us in a strong position for the years to come.”