John Lewis is to become the first UK department store group to offer free Wi-Fi to customers as it looks to consolidate its focus on multichannel offerings.
Following a trial at a number of Peter Jones stores, the retailer aims to have the service, which will allow customers to access product information and view ratings and reviews, up and running by Christmas.
In order to reinforce the group’s pricing promise to be ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’, customers will be able to surf all areas of the internet including competitors’ sites to compare prices.
Staff will be trained to help customers make the most informed purchases, and will work alongside ‘digital champions’, available in each branch to help customers with online shopping.
Available for free following an initial registration, the Wi-Fi access from BT Openzone allows wireless connectivity to the internet for John Lewis shoppers via any wireless-enabled PC, tablet or smartphone.
John Lewis IT Director Paul Coby said: “This is a major development in John Lewis’s vision for multichannel retail.
“We have made great progress with online which is now growing at between 25 per cent and 30 per cent compared to last year and amounts to circa 20 per cent of our revenue.
“We know our customers are mobile and want to be connected anywhere, anytime and any place.This of course means in John Lewis shops and we are committed to providing that connectivity and easy access to our fantastic assortment through our customers’ smart phones, iPhones and iPads.”
This latest development has been made as part of the retailer’s commitment to Race Online, the government initiative to encourage people to use the internet, and follows news that 60 per cent of John Lewis customers research products online prior to purchase.
In order to increase its m-commerce presence, the group is also soon to launch an iPhone app, which will include features to help customers quickly and easily access John Lewis online products, reviews and video in-store.
John Lewis Head of Multichannel Simon Russell said: “We recognise that mobile phones have become a crucial part of people’s shopping habits.
“The roll-out of Wi-Fi in our shops is a big step forward in helping customers to have all of the information they need at their fingertips to make an informed purchase.”