John Lewis is calling on other retailers to join a new nationwide click-and-collect network to help drive further supply chain efficiencies and help bricks-and-mortar stores to remain competitive against pureplay rivals.
The department store chain is set to roll out the second phase of a project it started with logistics firm Clipper in September last year. It initially offered click-and-collect in 119 Waitrose stores, using “retail-ready” cages and full tracking facilities from a 50,000 sq ft Clipper site in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, as well as tracking software from M-Netics and carrier management company GFS.
Next month, it will extend to the full Waitrose estate of 350 stores, incorporating a new shared use site from Clipper in Northampton.
Dino Rocos, operations director at John Lewis, argued that retailers could join forces to find greater efficiencies in areas such as logistics, which would allow them to compete more effectively in customer-facing areas such as product offer and service.
Speaking at Clipper’s Future Forum in London on July 7, he said: “There is an imperative for all retailers to find opportunities for more efficiency as the reality is that retailing today is more expensive than it ever has been in the past.
“All retailers are in competition and there will need to be differentiation when it touches the customer, but in this middle ground there are real opportunities to drive efficiencies for all of us, which might allow some to enhance bottom-line profit and others to see some of that benefit to fall through as an enhanced proposition tailored to that particular retailer.
“Our hope is that we will see that approach delivers some benefits not just for us, but for the wider retail sector going forward.”
Ged Keogh-Peters, director of supply chain strategy at John Lewis, underlined the growing importance of click-and-collect as a service, which made up 53% of John Lewis’s total online sales in the year to January 30 2016.
“It’s a trend we expect to grow further and we’ve found that it’s increasingly about certainty and convenience – only 50% of online orders are collected next day.”
Tony Mannix, chief executive of Clipper Logistics, said: “John Lewis provided the impetus for the project but now we have created a national network so other retailers can tap into the volume benefits created with John Lewis as an anchor.
“There is some traction within the John Lewis business that there may be an opportunity for brands within the network to use Waitrose as collection points, if that was appropriate, but equally if retailers just want parcels delivered to their own stores, then that could happen too.”