John Lewis reveals how it will collapse the ‘black hole’ of customer data in its stores

Bricks and mortar stores are a “black hole” of customer data that John Lewis hopes to eliminate by embedding technology into its shopping experiences.

Data in retail is shaping the way the brand designs its stores so that they complement how people shop online. John Lewis has been pushing its omnichannel capabilities in recent years and invested heavily in mobile technologies in 2015 to improve the experience and get a better grasp on why shoppers are, or aren’t, buying products in-store.

“Shops to some extent are a bit of a black hole, and by putting in technology such as this you can really start to join the dots to understand where the customer comes in and what they are doing,” said Mark Felix, director of online trading at John Lewis at the IMRG Fashion Connect conference in London today (11 February)

“We need to help guide customers and tell them to use technology to have a better omnichannel experience and you do that by offering free wifi in all stores then you need to give them signposting and messaging to tell them what to do next,” he explained.

For example, on its Hobbs dress display John Lewis has added signs that read ‘Like this? See more here’ and direct shoppers to scan a QR code which then takes them to a landing page on the website that has the full extended range of Hobbs dresses.

Similarly, the store has added signs around some of its electrical displays that read ‘Scan here and read one of the 55 star reviews of the product’ if a customer is choosing between a couple of products.

Such detailed data flowing into the business means it can create a more responsive shopping experience; should it receive a lot of scans on Hobbs dresses then it could expand the range of displays in-store or if it gets scans to technical questions then maybe there's a business case to hire more staff or put in a customer service desk.

“From an online perspective 2015 was really about mobile… and the John Lewis app was key in that,” said Felix. “It’s not only about giving customers the tools to help them have the omnichannel journey but it’s also about helping point them and guide them to the next best action.

Revealing plans for 2016, Felix said John Lewis will continue to invest in opening new stores – both in the UK and in shop-in-shops in Holland and Dubai - as well as further mobile and digital innovations as it ramps up its omnichannel ambitions.

Natalie Mortimer

Natalie is The Drum's fashion, design, luxury and food & drink reporter.

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