John Lewis has revealed details of a new concierge-style shopping experience that will be on trial at its new Oxford store when it opens on Tuesday.
The initiative forms part of the department store chain’s strategy to increase footfall and improve its customer experience offerings, as it attempts reinvent itself and arrest falling profits.
The retailer’s new Oxford branch has dedicated one fifth of its floorspace to customer experiences, offering 21 different services from travel advice to eye tests and children’s car seat fitting advice.
Additional services include a free personal styling service for men, free technology training workshops to help customers get the most out of their purchases and learn about the latest technology, and John Lewis’ first express Nail and Brow bar.
At the heart of it all will be an Experience Desk managed by the retailer’s first ever Brand Experience Manager, where customers will be offered a “concierge style” service to help them plan their day or purchase one of the Gift Experience packages on offer.
Service partners at the desk will be able to provide information on store offers, make bookings for in-store events and styling or home design appointments, or reserve a table at the Scandinavian rooftop restaurant KuPP.
Customers will also be offered a “hotel style” tour to show them around the store.
The 322 staff recruited to work at the Oxford shop have been given “theatre training” by The Oxford Playhouse to teach them “the art of outstanding service”, as well as a new uniform which will be updated each season.
As part of our plans to differentiate the John Lewis brand and to reinvent the department store for the 21st century, our shops continue to be a place where customers come and experience our brand – the physical manifestation of what we stand for,” John Lewis managing director Paula Nickolds said.
“More than a route to selling things, our Oxford shop is a place that aims to inspire and delight our customers and is entirely focused on customer experience with Partners and finishing details at the heart of that.”
John Lewis said it invested approximately £18 million in building the 120,000sq ft shop in Oxford, which will be the anchor tenant at the new Westgate shopping centre – which also opens on October 24.
The new concierge service follows John Lewis’ recent introduction of “The Residence”, an in-store sleepover experience that allows customers to try out a mattress and other furniture before buying it.
Also part of the department store’s strategy to reinvent itself, The Residence was initially launched in branches on London‘s Oxford Street, and in Cambridge and Liverpool.