by Mark Chillingworth

John Lewis CIO set for a bumper Christmas 2014

Dec 23, 20143 mins
IT LeadershipIT StrategyRetail Industry

Everything points to Christmas 2014 being a Christmas cracker for mutual retailer John Lewis and it’s IT DirectorPaul Coby.

Despite reports today of lower sales in December due to Black Friday taking place in November, the disruptive force of technology and a repeat of last year’s online Christmas spending could see this December eclipse last year.

John Lewisis considered by many in the CIO community as an example of omni-channel retailing as its online and physical department store business thrive.

Speaking to CIO UK early in 2014 IT Director Paul Coby revealed the retailer doesn’t just increase sales on the run up to Christmas Day, the one day of the year many shops are closed are strong trading days for John Lewis thanks to the disruptive forces of technology.

“On Christmas day three-quarters of our customers were using mobile devices on the John Lewis website,” Coby said.

As we enter the final two days of pre-Christmas retailing, John Lewis has already performed strongly.

Sales at John Lewisfor last week reached £150.7 million the Guardian reported, ahead of last year’s performance for the same period.

“From Saturday there will be a second wind and we are expecting it to be pretty intense through to the end of Christmas Eve,” Andrew Murphy, retail director of John Lewis told the Guardian. Black Friday a “cultural” import from the US saw John Lewis achieve its best week of sales in a 150-year history, selling £179 million worth of goods and orders to the online click and collect business increased by 31%.

Despite the recession and current talk of UK productivity stalling, despite high levels of employment, John Lewis has reported strong sales for the last five years, according to retail analysts Experian and IMRG.

Christmas 2014 will be culmination of a strong year for John Lewis, it began 2014 announcing a 23% increase in sales over Christmas 2013, with in-store sales last year up by 1.2%.

“The great thing was that the stores and online grew,” Coby said. “For three weeks up to Christmas (2013) and one week after Christmas online sales were 36% of our total sales. So it was an omni-channel Christmas.

“Mobile traffic has grown enormously as people want immediacy. As a result, we have changed the navigation and the checkout is better. Click and Collect saw usage increase by 60%,” Coby said of Christmas 2013 and the CIO and retail communities will be waiting to see the 2014 results in early 2015.

“None of these results would have happened unless the back end of the business is well built in. It is the whole thing working together and that is the essence of the John Lewis proposition. Our offering is the integration of the shops, online, mobile, call centre and social, too,” Coby said.