The retail firm John Lewis has announced that they will be offering shoppers the chance to have the shop completely to themselves if they spend £10,000 or over.
While this is only being trailed in their new Cheltenham store, it stands as one of a number of innovative ways the department store is trying to revive its fortunes. It was announced last month that the chain’s profits had been completely wiped out in the first half of the year and that they will be unlikely to open any additional retail stores.
This marks another attempt by a large retailer to try and attract people into stores, rather than buying online, which is becoming increasingly prevalent. It’s not only John Lewis who are attempting to make the shopping experience a bit different though; at the Debenhams in Watford, for example, customers can get a blow dry or a facial, as well as try on clothes in updated changing rooms which offer adjustable lighting and mood settings.
The new Cheltenham store is also offering comprehensive personal shopper services, allowing customers to choose items from a catalogue with a complimentary glass of wine while staff bring them the items requested, personal stylists, and gift gurus to help customers find presents for difficult to please relatives or friends.
This means that the staff working within John Lewis’ Cheltenham store will have to take on the role of brand ambassadors rather than just sales assistants, and since employees own shares within the company, both the chain and the staff will benefit from good services and happy customers.
However, these services might not be enough to revitalise the company. House of Fraser, previously on of John Lewis’ biggest rivals went into administration and was subsequently bought by Mike Ashley, owner of Sports Direct. Equally, many New Look, Debenhams, and Homebase stores, which all run to the same model as John Lewis, have been closed due to lack of profits.
While the personal services offered in John Lewis’ London stores have been successful, with 20% of sales being attributed to six personal stylists in their Westfield store, there is no guarantee that this model will work outside of London, and the current schemes are directed predominately at higher-end customers with more disposable income. As to whether or not this will be enough to restore the chain’s profits is yet to be seen, although John Lewis does seem to be fighting against the general decline of the high-street retailer.