John Lewis is to boost its omnichannel approach by launching a “suite” of mobile apps, including one to support its Christmas advert, but the retailer has “no plans for world domination” through an international store rollout.
Speaking at the World Retail Congress in Paris, Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis, said the retailer will “never become complacent”.
“The best brands are paranoid when on top of their game and I keep telling my team they have got to do better. Brands that have done very well have been very profitable and haven’t kept their eye on the ball. We won’t do that.”
To ensure this, Street told delegates the department store would launch new apps before Christmas, as mobile sales surged last festive season.
An updated version of the tablet-specific app will be launched ahead of Christmas and further enhancements to the phone app are planned for 2015. An app will also be launched to support the Christmas campaign, the focus of which will be on “interactivity and children’s imaginations”.
To stay ahead of the game with omnichannel he added John Lewis had had to “go out and buy new capability” as the retailer didn’t know what e-marketing and e-fulfilment (the arrangements necessary for businesses to sell their products or services on the internet) meant a few years ago.
It is now investing £100m on a new e-fulfilment centre. IT investment will also be increased from 15% between 2009-13 to a projected 37% between 2014-18. “There has been a sea change in the structure of the organisation and the ownership model has helped in that.”
Street said that, unlike Tesco, John Lewis is “far from saturation” in the UK. “Tesco is a very successful business, but it’s at saturation point in their home market. We only have 42 stores and we want 65 for national coverage. We are far away from saturation.”
On international expansion, Street said the business would not expand internationally and has “no plans for world domination”.
“We are not going to put a shop down internationally as the UK market is hot and we have one of the most robust economies in the west. There’s no way we will take our eye off the ball, over my dead body.”