John Lewis has done it again. Proving that multi channel success really is possible if retailers understand how customers are changing shopping habits, and develop an offer to meet those needs.
The UK is hardly a fertile ground for retailers at the moment, so delivering 7% comp sales is quite a performance. Given online rose by 23%, and 40% of it stores reported negative sales growth, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that it is their multi channel strategy has been crucial to delivering this strong overall result.
John Lewis is known to be very proactive in developing its multi channel proposition and has regularly been lauded for providing customers the means to shop in the way they want. And now this is delivering when it’s needed most, at a time of extreme competition on the UK High Street. How have they achieved this where others have struggled? I believe there are some key factors:
1. They recognised the challenge faced by retailers and responded.
John Lewis didn’t wait until they had to develop multi-channel, they just realised it was the right thing to do for their customers and so by extension, their business.
2. They translated the offline customer proposition and brand values online.
John Lewis web site communicates well to its established quality conscious audience, but also to the average shopper seeking value and service. It communicates authority and capability, providing customers with confidence they will deliver on their expectations.
3. Minimising channel conflict to create a joined up customer experience.
Channel conflict is the number one enemy of creating a great multi channel customer experience. John Lewis is owned by its employees so they are better aligned to the success of the business as a whole, rather than just focusing on their personal KPI’s.
4. The site is mainstream & straight forward to use.
The web site does what it says on the tin and is intuitive to use. There are no gimmicks or experimental merchandising functionality to alienate users. Merchandising is good, making products easy to find by search or browse.
5. Product content is excellent.
The product content on John Lewis gives the customer all the information they need to buy online and avoid going into store. Even for the most basic products, images, copy and data is complete and well laid out. This is the philosophy we encourage our clients to use when designing product content requirements. From great imagery, to product descriptions and data, they have it covered.
It does of course help that they have a strong brand, but John Lewis sells the same products most other pure plays and department stores do, and it isn’t exactly bargain basement. This clear and well executed approach to delivering a multi channel strategy has clearly succeeded by translating well worn retail principals online. It has made them a preferred destination for customers who just want a convenient way of getting they things they want at good value.