John Lewis: engaging the mobile customer

John Lewis is widely viewed as an industry standard-setter when it comes to customer experience, and their mobile strategy is no exception.

Retail Connections chatted with the company’s Mobile Product Manager, Tom Rooney, about how John Lewis is using mobile to join up the online and in-store customer journey.

As Mobile Product Manager, what does your job entail?

I’ve been working in the online team at John Lewis for around 10 years now. My role focusses on understanding the way consumers shop through their mobile, and creating functionality around that.

What percentage of John Lewis’ online traffic comes from mobile devices, and how does the customer journey differ when they are using a smartphone or tablet device?

If you include all types of devices, mobile accounts for more than 50% of our online traffic, and it’s continually growing – particularly on smartphones.

The volume of mobile traffic tends to differ according to the time of day. Smartphones are customers’ primary devices in the morning, then it quietens down during the day. Then in the evening, it’s more about tablets.

We also see differences in the type of visits we receive. Smartphones tend to generate shorter but more frequent engagements – shoppers are getting it out of their pocket for a quick look – whereas tablet users enjoy a longer, more leisurely experience. The propensity to buy is also higher with tablets, but smartphones are very important at the research stage.

How central is mobile as a channel to creating good customer experiences?

Mobile is vital to us; it’s the most popular device that consumers use to shop with us online. When it comes to developing online content and capabilities, we are very much mobile first. In this respect, mobile isn’t complimentary – it’s the primary way we design online experiences.

How does John Lewis’ mobile strategy ensure customers are equally engaged in-store and online?

Our app is a focal area for bringing the customer experience together. We’ve built a lot of features specifically to enhance the in-store journey, from mobile barcode scanners to our ‘kitchen drawer’, which is a digital substitute for paper receipts. Shoppers can store a record of their purchase in the cloud, so they don’t have to carry around strips of paper.

We have also digitised our loyalty cards, and made them available through Apple wallet, which customers like because they don’t have to carry a plastic card around with them. We’re getting positive feedback on the fact we’re trying to make life easier for our customers through digital innovation, and we’re seeing stronger growth where loyalty and mobile overlap.

How is mobile changing the way consumers shop at John Lewis stores?

Customers take their smartphones with them everywhere, and that includes into our shops. Customers now have access to more information than they have ever had before and we’re working hard to try and enhance that journey for them, particularly with our apps for iOS and Android. Almost 15% of app use involves an interaction with the barcode scanner, the digital version of our loyalty card or the kitchen drawer feature.

How do you think mobile retail will evolve over the next few years?

There are new devices and ways for people to shop emerging all the time, from wearables and smart TVs, to voice activated technology. These new channels will need to connect with customers’ mobile devices, and work alongside existing channels.

And as products become smarter they will have their own conversations – for example, sending alerts when they are about to break, or automating replenishment. As a retailer it’s really important to consider what our role is in that journey. There’s a lot of opportunity out there in IoT.


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