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Internet Retailing 2014: The journey towards onmichannel is only just beginning

“The next 3 to 5 years will see more change to retail than [already seen] within our generation,” says Mark Lewis, online director at John Lewis.

Speaking at today’s Internet Retailing conference in London, Lewis said as customers embrace new technologies omnichannel will become key, which will result in significant changes for all retailers. He said: “Customers expect us to piece together a seamless journey across all touch points of the business.”

This year Lewis predicted a third of all of John Lewis sales will come from online (half of which will be made via a mobile or tablet). He said although John Lewis has seen omnichannel growth the business is very much still early on in the process. However, the growth can already be seen in the increasing development in IT – whilst from 2009-2013 the business spent 15% of resources on IT, from 2014-2019 Lewis predicts this to rise to 37%.

Lewis highlighted the fact that John Lewis was a relatively early adopter online (the business bought buy.com in 2001) and it was this that allowed them to make mistakes and quickly move on.

He cited the importance of supply chain investment and explained that this is why the business is currently looking to double the capacity of its warehouse. Currently click and collect accounts for more than half of all the orders made online.

Lewis put success so far down to remaining consistent to John Lewis’ core values. “The partnership structure of John Lewis has helped us manage change and allowed us to invest in the long term.” He went on to conclude: “There is lots of change but what we must always have is a common set of values and know where we want to be throughout our customers lives.”

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