John Lewis welcomes in its first visitors to its newly refurbished Edinburgh store today – a reopening that offers insights into its latest thinking on how department stores can stay relevant as shoppers move further online.
The department store, ranked Leading in RXUK Top500 research, last year set out a £1bn strategy of investing in digital, and virtual services and delivery as it worked to get closer to customers, and to restore its profitability. At the same time, it has seen 60% of it sales taking place online over the last year, and expects that to rise to 70%. The retailer has responded by closing stores – it now has 34, down from 50 a year ago. The question for it now is how can a department store best use its shops to get closer to customers who are now making more of their retail purchases online.
Today’s new-look Edinburgh store offers some answers as to what this strategy means in practice. The new store boasts a “brand new” range of services and experiences. Beauty studios and treatment rooms are home to a Beauty Society “concierge-style” service, where shoppers can ask in-house beauty experts for advice. The menswear department also features its own dedicated beauty and grooming area, while shoppers can now try on clothing in-store and get personal styling advice.
The new store sets its largest-yet World of Design hub in a space of almost 3,000 sq ft, for shoppers to drop in on home stylists for decorating and styling advice on their home makeovers, while magnetic moodboards feature carpet, wallpaper and fabric samples.
The childrenswear department is designed to encourage parents to bring their children with them, with the lure of interactive play areas, from teepees to play cubes and digital touchscreen coffee tables. Meanwhile, the nursery department offers appointments for both new parents and those moving behind the baby stage. New store-in-stores feature Neom candles and Ixia florist services.
Barry Blamire, head of branch at John Lewis Edinburgh, says: “We are so excited to be opening once again and welcoming customers into our refurbished shop. The past year has shown just how much our customers rely on our partners for that much needed advice and guidance. This new shop provides an inspirational physical space to come and browse everything and anything from homeware to fashion, nursery to technology.
“The new look store has been designed as a hub of inspiration, curation, convenience and personal advice.”
John Lewis Edinburgh is part of the wider St James Quarter large-scale regeneration project, which opens fully on June 24.