John Lewis tests online shopping

The John Lewis department store chain entered the online shopping fray this week with the launch of an “invitation-only” home shopping service focusing on Christmas gifts.

The password-protected online shopping service (www.johnlewis.co.uk) allows invited testers to buy a range of hampers, chocolates, champagne and tea boxes for both domestic and international delivery. Delivery charges of &£3 per item in the UK are being dropped for delivery within the London area.

Selected UK customers were e-mailed last week to inform them about the service, which launched October 5 to overseas customers.

The department store chain is promising to fulfil Christmas gift orders so long as they are placed by November 30 for overseas customers and December 10 for UK customers.

The soft roll-out of an online shopping service by the department store group follows the launch in September of an online grocery ordering service by sister supermarket chain Waitrose.

The Waitrose@work service allows users to select groceries at home or work through their PC, but the delivery service remains limited to workplaces which have registered with the scheme.

The John Lewis Partnership chain is rolling out other features on its Website designed to move it towards a catalogue-style resource for UK shoppers, detailing the range of products available in various departments of its stores.

Although the invitation to customers to take part in the shopping trial does not include any imminent plans to extend the range of products available online, the new focus on providing information on particular department’s goods suggests the site may be poised to roll out further product ranges if the online trial go well.

The launch of John Lewis’ trial comes as supermarket chain Sainsbury’s announces that a &£30m investment in developing its Internet-based home shopping service is expected to significantly dent profits for the group when its interim results are announced later this month.

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Tom Fishburne is founder of Marketoon Studios. Follow his work at marketoonist.com or on Twitter @tomfishburne See more of the Marketoonist here

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