Speaking at the British Retail Consortium’s Customer Insights conference in London yesterday (13 February), John Lewis’ customer insight director Paul de Laat says the retailer has typically used time and product-driven campaigns to market to customers because it didn’t have any data on what they were buying and when. However, now it will look to shift to life-stage marketing, using data points to work out when a consumer is ready for new sofas or curtains or to start buying nappies.
“The loyalty scheme is a fantastic medium to interact with customers in a much more effective way than normal outbound communication, which is shooting and hoping something comes back. We can personalise and increase engagement of our customers online.
The data can help us to predict lifecycle moments with more precision and lets us zoom in on sub-categories that are relevant. We are in the foothills of what this will bring to our business,” he says.
De Laat claims the scheme, which launched in October, has got off to a “spectacular” start and the retailer is now looking at ways to keep customers engaged not just through direct marketing but also by talking to customers as they walk through the store. John Lewis is testing tablets in a number of its stores, allowing staff to scan customers’ loyalty card to bring up their information so they can make product recommendations .
“We want to communicate to customers as they walk through the store. At the moment we only talk to customers at the end of the shopping experience, we want to change the dynamics of that,” says de Laat.
He adds that while the John Lewis loyalty scheme has launched as a card, there will be a mobile app in the future, once the programme has reached “critical mass”. John Lewis also plans to link up the data from the loyalty scheme with other customer information, such as product reviews.
John Lewis has emerged as one of the big winners on the high street over the past few years with sales rising ahead of the wider market. Over the Christmas period it saw like-for-like sales rise 6.9 per cent, while for the full year they were up 7.4 per cent, leading to what the retailer claims are “decisive” market share gains.
The most recent figures for the week ending 8 February show sales up 3.3 per cent year on year, despite heavy rain and tube strikes in London that kept reduced demand at its high street stores.