Founded in 1929, the John Lewis Partnership is a world-famous, UK-based retailing house that operates both the John Lewis department store chain and the grocery store chain Waitrose. As a partnership, it is wholly owned by the 86,000 employees who run its 400+ stores across the country. Like the majority of established retailers, JLP faced the challenges of the rapidly transforming retail landscape. In particular, the increasing dominance of the online giants and the ever-increasing customer expectations that have come with it.
Struggling in particular to maintain engagement and loyalty among its best customers, whose continued patronage was core to the continued viability of the business, JLP engaged us to co-develop with them a new approach to maintaining differentiation in this new retail climate and reigniting its relationship with best customers.
The Key Insight
Working with JLP Ventures, the Partnership’s internal innovation team working across both the John Lewis and Waitrose businesses, we led an agile learn-do engagement to invent and design a portfolio of new service and experience offerings for best customers whilst helping the JLP Ventures team further develop their own capability by honing their skills as innovators and expanding their collective toolset.
Following a rapid immersion into their business and research with both customers and store partners, a key insight emerged that would become foundational to the direction we would set and the specific offerings we would develop: that despite personal, human interaction and service being a powerful driver of deeper, emotional engagement amongst customers—and something that the online retailers can’t replicate—JLP was typically not fully leveraging this defining and differentiating element of its Partnership model.
By the end of the sprint, we had co-developed a transformative new proposition leveraging the skills, expertise and passion of JLP’s partners to provide a new level of value for the business’ most important customers. From new in-store experiences designed to inspire to breakthrough new services delivering a whole new level of convenience, we together developed a diverse portfolio of new paid and complementary offerings to recapture the hearts, minds and wallets of best customers.
Following strong reception amongst JLP leadership, commercialisation of our work began with the pilot launch of Wine Tasting at Home by Waitrose, a new experiential offering in which customers can arrange for a sommelier-led wine tasting in the comfort of their own home with friends or family. Earlier this month, JLP launched a pilot for the centerpiece of our proposition, While You’re Away—a “last yard” home delivery service in partnership with Yale Locks in which groceries aren’t just delivered to your home, but put away in your refrigerator and cupboard, setting a new standard in convenience.