< back to articles

Focus On: John Lewis

by PlanWriter | on December 23rd, 2014

John Lewis began trading in 1864 with the opening of the first shop in London’s Oxford Street. 2014 marks the 150 anniversary of the company, which continues to grow and expand. John Lewis essentially is a chain of upmarket department stores and is owned by The John Lewis Partnership, operating its full line of department stores together with its chain of home shops. There are several factors that make John Lewis unique and have influenced its growth. They include:


Recognition of their partners

The individuals who work in this organisation share in the profits of the company. They are not referred to as staff, but as partners. This incentivises the partners to care about the company and the kind of service that they offer. Many of their partners have worked for the business for a long time. They are interested in the products that they sell and have excellent product knowledge. The partners are trained on product, sales and service. Customers are treated as individuals and are taken through their purchases from the start to the finish.

The efforts of their partners have seen John Lewis receive recognition in varied customer satisfaction surveys and awards. For instance John Lewis was voted in 2010 as Britain’s favourite retailer for the third year running. Retail analysts, Verdict, carried out the survey. Their partnership model provides a balance in the board, since it has a mix consisting of elected members and committed staff members that has enhanced good decision-making and thus contributed to growth of the retailer.


Omni-channel Approach

They have developed multi-channel approach that allows customers to easily purchase items across online platforms, and in-store channels. The channels complement each other. Their online platform has over a quarter of a million products from which customers can choose from. 42 percent of their online traffic comes from smartphones and tablet computers. Customers can search in one place and shop in another. It has for instance a Click-and Collect Service that was launched in 2009 that allows shoppers to purchase products online and collect them from John Lewis branches across the country.

They have also adopted mobile technology that complements in store experiences of their customers. For instance they have an iPhone app that allows customers to scan barcodes of products that are available in the store and make orders through the mobile site if they are out of stock.



It is during Christmas that the advertising prowess of this retailer is unleashed. Its advertisements have become such a big deal that even celebrities can’t help discussing them. The popularity of their “bear and hare” campaign led to the merchandise that they produced around the advert such as alarm clocks and cuddly toys to sell out within three weeks of the advertisement airing. They are reported to spend £5million over the 5weeks leading to Christmas. Christmas this year (2014) is not any different. Their advert, which has a cute boy and his best friend, Monty the penguin had more than 4 million views within the first 24 hours. The advert cost £1million to shoot and was shot prominently in East London.


The organisation has continued to invest heavily in the execution of their advertisements by bringing in world-class creatives (the 2014 ad is created once again by Adam & Eve/DDB agency). They spend approximately £50 million on media and they have ensured there is consistency in their Christmas ads as they have once again produced a two-minute film and have stuck to a tried and tested formula. Their marketing strategies put the customer first and build on their overall brand philosophy.


Trust and Customer Loyalty

According to a study by analysts (Nunwood) John Lewis is the most trusted UK retailer. This trust has led to customer loyalty. It has long history of exemplary service and its stores are perceived as reliable.


Acting On Customer’s Feedback

They listen to what their customers say. They usually act on similar views by different customers. In John Lewis they were able to introduce name badges for selling Partners to make customer service even more personal. The badges were introduced since customers wanted to remember the staff that had assisted them in case they needed further assistance.


Accessible Shops and Services

The design of their shops ensures their customers can easily access the stores. They have reserved parking lots for disabled individuals that are close to shop entrances. They have installed accessible lifts, toilets, till points and mobile and fixed hearing loops to meet the needs of their diverse clients. Customers can access information on their leaflets in alternative formats for instance large print, Braille and audio CD.


They offer free delivery and purchase collection points that are particularly suited for disabled customers. Their multi-channel approach Internet websites and call centres mean that their goods and services are accessible without having to visit an actual shop. Alongside the glamour and glitter of their stores they have well priced displays that have a wide range of products. This impression of glamour is combined with practicality.


Goodwill Gestures

The company tends to surpass its customers’ expectations. The retailer is committed to parting with some money even if it is not their fault by acknowledging acts that they are powerless to control. For instance if your TV gets broken when being delivered although it is not strictly John Lewis’ fault the company will assume responsibility and see that it is fixed. It is estimated that the retailer spends £8 million on such cases annually. Such gestures maintain customer loyalty and ensure that the customer is always kept happy.


By mid-2014 the operating profit of the retail chain increased by 62.2% to £56.3 million and the gross sales in the first half were up by 9.4% to £1.87 billion. Online sales were up by 25.6% to £552 billion and they now represent over 30 percent of the companies merchandise sales. In store sales grew by 3. 6 percent. The chain has approximately 90,000 staff that own 43 John Lewis shops across the UK. John Lewis has become synonymous with excellent customer service and satisfaction. The company regards profits, partners and customers as being equal and similarly important for the company. It has developed a winning recipe of success that has a mix of culture, good training and technology that continues to delight its customers.