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Multichannel Report Close-Up preview: Q&A with John Lewis operations director Dino Rocos

Drapers gives you an exclusive sneak peak of our Multichannel Report Close-Up interview with John Lewis operations director Dino Rocos, ahead of the full interview in this weekend’s supplement

John Lewis is one of the high street’s leading multichannel businesses. How has your behind the scenes operation had to adjust to facilitate that journey?

Customers have a very legitimate expectation of retailers in general, and certainly in the case of John Lewis, a very clearly articulated expectation of the service standard that they expect. What we’ve had to do is two things. One is recognise that customer expectation continues to very legitimately move forward, and alongside that, that the world of logistics has become hugely more complicated. The infrastructure’s changed, the technology’s changed, the expectation has changed, the environment, which was generally (and this again isn’t unique to John Lewis) populated by willing amateurs, has become an environment which demands the highest levels of professionalism. Our customers’ expectation is that we will get it right, and that we’ll get it right consistently.

You’ve made an investment nearing £100m at your semi-automated NDC at Magna Park to cope with the increase in deliveries brought-about by the rise of online. How important has the investment been to facilitating your multichannel journey?

I don’t think we could have done two things. We couldn’t have grown at the rate that we have grown, and we couldn’t have delivered the improvements in lead times and customer proposition that we have without that degree of investment.  We took care to try and have a strategy that supported the growth and development of the new [online] channel, and also the customer proposition, to allow us to deliver cost effective solutions.

Later and later deliveries are more costly. Are you absorbing the cost or passing it onto consumers?

If you look at the straight numbers - the cost of employing an individual to work nights versus days, it does cost more, there’s no two ways about it. What we have tried to do, and what we’ve been able to do is through delivering the growth, is to match that with the delivery of further efficiencies in our operation, such as automisation and consolidating deliveries.

Click-and-collect now represents nearly 30-40% of all of John Lewis’s online sales. How much of a change has that been to how you operate?

If you roll back two years ago, we were running articulated lorries with one or two [click-and-collect] cages going to a department store. Now, particularly during the clearance time and the pre-Christmas, we are running more than one articulated, multi-deck vehicle into a department store, filled with cages for click and collect. I mean, the volume has absolutely gone through the roof, it really has done.

Read the full interview in Drapers’ third Multichannel Report, which will be published this weekend.

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