John Lewis is investing £4 million to introduce mobile technology in-store, enabling staff to answer customer questions about products and availability on the spot.
The customer service programme will see 8,000 Partners who work on the shop floor in 20 stores at the retailer issued with a iPhone with a dedicated Partner App. They’ll be able to use the app to answer customer queries about products, stock availability and to place orders without having to go to the stockroom or to a customer till to check.
The app was designed and built by John Lewis’s in-house online team using feedback from Partners in its Cambridge shop. It was then tested in that store with customers over the course of five months. Following a training programme this summer the mobile phones will be rolled out to the 8,000 shopfloor Partners in 20 John Lewis shops across the UK.
The app enables Partners to see where stock is available, across shops, and in John Lewis’ Milton Keynes warehouse where online orders are fulfilled. Staff can also see product information, customer reviews, email customer product information and place orders.
During the busiest week in the trial, half of all online purchases made in the shop assisted by a Partner were made using the app.
“As online and physical worlds increasingly come together, this initiative, which forms the foundation of our digital strategy for shops, will support our Partners in offering great customer service in a digital world,” said Craig Inglis, John Lewis’s customer director.
“During the trial in our Cambridge store, customer feedback was overwhelmingly positive. It consistently speeded up response times to customer queries as Partners didn’t need to leave the customer to find answers, or complete a purchase. This is just the beginning. We will keep adding to the Partner App in the future with new, innovative ways to help our customers.”
John Lewis first started to bring its online business into its shops in 2008 when it installed screens so that customers could look up product information and check online availability. Earlier this year the retailer introduced a self check-in option at its collection desks in shops. Customers can opt to put their order number into an iPad while they are queuing to pick up their item, and the Partner serving them will greet them with their order, so speeding up the process.