RBTE 2015: John Lewis committing further to IT overhaul

John Lewis is continuing to boost its investment in IT as it recognises the need to renew how it does business in order to support its vision of an omnichannel future.

Speaking to a capacity crowd at RBTE 2015, Paul Coby, IT director at John Lewis, highlighted how the company is "increasing IT spend substantially with the current plan being three-times the level of 2011-12".

This involves investing in a new EPoS, new website, and new customer management systems. "This investment is about renewing how we do business to support the new omnichannel way of doing business," he explained, revealing that the number of IT employees (partners) will double and that 36 individuals have been promoted during the past year.

Coby suggests the result of these efforts will "transform all the IT infrastructure in the company over the next five years" with John Lewis working closely with its key IT partners ATG Oracle – that involves a new ERP system - salesforce.com, and IBM's Sterling Commerce.

The company is also keen to tap into innovative solutions from smaller companies and is working with Localz (that won its JLAB incubator initiative last year) on a beacon proposition to speed up click & collect in-store. Such has been the success of JLAB that Coby said it will run again this year, confirming comments he made at NRF's Big Show in January.

Although the company is working on some cutting-edge activities he highlighted how the IT vision the company formulated in 2011 is based on ensuring the fundamentals of its IT are sound: "You can't talk iBeacons if the basics are not working."

This thinking underlines the company's technology strategy. "We are taking our [John Lewis] values of service and trust and translating them into a world radically transformed by technology - involving selling across omnichannels. Retail is being revolutionised by technology but you have to stick to your core values," Coby suggested.