John Lewis Partnership updates on omnichannel strategy

The John Lewis Partnership has published its annual report and accounts.

It opened one new John Lewis shop in Oxford during 2017, ending 2017/18 with 49. Its 50th shop made its debut in White City Westfield in March and it will be arriving in Cheltenham during the autumn. The Partnership opened seven new Waitrose shops and closed six in the year, bringing the total to 353.

"Following investment in, making it easier to navigate, our online grocery operation achieved strong profitable sales growth of 10.9%," the report states. "John Lewis online sales grew by 9.9% year-on-year. We delivered over 17 million John Lewis customer orders across the UK from our various distribution centres.”

The retailer also launched self-service check-in iPads for John Lewis Click & Collect orders in 140 Waitrose shops in time for Black Friday. It also continued its plans to “reinvent the department store”, launching Experience Desks in five shops, providing customers with ‘concierge style’ services. John Lewis also launched two-hour delivery slots and online order tracking. 

In terms of the overall UK retail market, household spending has fallen. The percentage of all UK retail online sales via mobile devices is now 54.6%. Click & Collect services account for 34.7% of all multi-channel retail sales, an increase of over 5% in the last 12 months. Whilst Brits spent an estimated £16 billion shopping online during December 2017. 

Meanwhile, both Lidl and Aldi’s market share went up last year. “We have seen more discounting in the retail market and profit margins across the entire UK grocery industry are being severely squeezed. In response, we are improving our customer propositions, across product, price, and service,” the report says.

The company also highlighted increased automation, not just in retail but across the wider economy. “Technology of the future could see shopping deliveries carried out by drones and supermarkets operating without traditional checkouts,” it adds. “In 2017/18 self-service, within Waitrose, accounted for 34.5% of transactions, which includes self-checkouts and Quick Check. Shopping habits are evolving rapidly and changes in technology are fast paced. It is important that the Partnership monitors and reacts quickly in order to maintain our competitive advantage.”

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