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Retailer John Lewis Adds Technology for Customers

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John Lewis will use a new appointment system in November to obtain a nationwide view of customer appointments. (Photo: Maciek Pelc)
John Lewis will use a new appointment system in November to obtain a nationwide view of customer appointments. (Photo: Maciek Pelc)

BUSINESS

  • Cloud-based appointment system lets customers book from anywhere
  • Smart-technology virtual mirrors from Cisco set to boost cross selling of clothing and accessory
  • Customer interest, newness improves John Lewis sales figures

UK department retailer John Lewis signed TOA Technologies to run its new cloud-based appointment booking system, which allows customers to book appointments from anywhere.

John Lewis will begin the system's use in all 28 of its department stores in November to obtain a nationwide view of customer appointments. The system is part of a larger project that will provide the ability for flexible customer solutions and unified scheduling options to meet the retailer's needs, an important advantage for a brick-and-mortar company seeking to compete in today's tech-heavy world.

With this new technology, customers can book in-store visits using a sales assistant's mobile device, whether it be a tablet or mobile phone. Eventually the appointment management system will be extended to include online booking solutions and online support through the company's website. Appointments will also be scheduled through the retailer's smaller “at home” stores.

John Lewis, a company that is consistently considered one of the leading online shopping solutions in the UK, is “constantly looking for ways to innovate and improve the services we offer to our customers,” according to the company's project manager, Adrian Riley.

Customer Centric

Riley said that John Lewis teamed up with TOA Technologies because the system can be used alongside the company's current project time frame, adding that TOA's “customer centric ethos” mirrors their company's customer service philosophy.

TOA Technologies is the renowned leader for on-demand portable workforce management solutions for both medium and large businesses. TOA's appointment management application, which comes integrated with workforce solutions that support real-time schedule changes, will allow for John Lewis to incorporate specific rules and requirements to meet its distinct needs.

Virtual Mirror Launch

John Lewis will also install virtual mirrors within the year. This new customer tech toy will provide the company with better cross-selling opportunities across clothing and accessory lines, while improving service capabilities. The new mirrors are set for a trial install at their new Exeter store, which is expected to open in 2012.

John Lewis's virtual mirrors will allow customers to try on various styles and colors by superimposing products onto their reflection. The company is not yet sure whether the mirrors will be placed inside changing rooms.

Smart technology within the mirrors will be able to gauge customer sizes to provide a relatively accurate idea of how products fit on their particular bodies and can be matched with little effort on the part of the customer. The new mirrors allow customers to use social media to demonstrate how outfits look to friends and family prior to securing a purchase.

Cisco, the mirror's creator, expects the product to be a major hit among shoppers of all ages. Other fashion retailers are seeking to incorporate similar technology, including New Look, who is already in talks with Cisco.

John Lewis has achieved a year-earlier trade increase of over 9% due to new technology, fashion and homeware lines drawing increased customer interest. The John Lewis website recorded sales growth of 45% year-on-year.

Key Players – UK Homeware & Furniture Industry

  • John Lewis, Ikea, Home Retail Group, NEXT Group, Debenhams, Dunelm Group, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury

By Nicole Manuel for
Nicole Manuel is a freelance economics, finance and blog writer with a degree in economics and over two years of experience.

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