John Lewis added its loyalty scheme to its app at the end of August. The move means members can now access the scheme from the John Lewis app and they don’t have to carry around their plastic card.
Speaking to Marketing Week, John Lewis’ head of customer marketing Chris Bates, said the update has required a lot of in-store work to enable its scanners to work with smartphones. Members can now open the app and shake the phone to pull up a barcode that can be scanned instead of the card.
He claimed the update has been well received, with more than 20,000 people linking their membership in the first two weeks following the app’s launch. However he said it is aimed at early adopters as it takes time for loyalty apps to go mass market. As such, he still expects most shoppers to use the plastic card.
He said: “A lot of feedback we get from members is around the hassle of remembering a plastic card. Loyalty is heading that [towards digital] but it will take time to become mass market.
“We are appealing to early adopters and with an active marketing plan we’ll get more people although it will take time to wean some people off the plastic cards.
“But digital is a win win all round, it costs less to produce and its easier for the customer because there’s one less thing to carry round. Everyone carries their phone around.”
John Lewis is also launching what it believes is an industry first with a new feature dubbed “Kitchen Drawer”. Every time a customer scans their loyalty card or the app in-store all the details of the purchase – including the receipt and guarantees – will be uploaded to their online John Lewis account.
Receipts will also be automatically updated if a customer returns or exchanges an item.
“The insight here is that when you shop in store you have to hang onto the paper receipt, particularly if its high value and there’s a guarantee. But you get home and you think where am I going to store the receipt? So we came up with the idea of a virtual Kitchen Drawer. We are trying to make shopping easier for our members,” explained Bates.
“Its really about us making shopping easier for our members. Its unique in the market, a lot of people do email receipts but this is one step beyond that. And we do it all for the customer, they just need to remember their password.”
Putting John Lewis on shoppers’ agenda
John Lewis launched its loyalty programme almost two years ago, with Bates saying the aim was to introduce something that did not just offer points but real benefits. The hero was free tea and cake, which Bates claimed has up to a 40% redemption rate and has been effective at driving footfall.
The retailer is now testing offering free soup over the winter months.
Bates admitted that historically John Lewis was “pigeon-holed” as a retailer for special occasions or more infrequent purchases. However he said the card has had the effect of driving people to its stores more often, with 1.5 million extra purchase visits from members versus a control group.
What we’ve seen with my John Lewis is people considering us for more shopping missions than before.
Chris Bates, head of customer marketing, John Lewis
“If they want to go and mooch around the shops on a Saturday afternoon with a friend with no set purchase in mind then we’re actually now on their agenda when we weren’t before. Free tea and cake has helped with that,” he explained.
While the free tea was the initial “pillar” John Lewis was built on, Bates said the ability to target and personalise communications has also been key.
Moving forward, the plan is to make its customers feel “special and exclusive” by running more events. For example through its sponsorship of the OnBlackheath festival, where it set up a lounge only for myJohnLewis members that 5,000 people moved.
This year for the first time John Lewis opened up its “Summer Clearance” event to members early and attracted 10,000 shoppers. It also gave 1,500 customers the chance to shop at its new Birmingham store two days before it officially opened and has run events around Christmas and Easter that it “will be doing again”.
“It’s a chance to get a glass of fizz, have a bit of theatre going on, suppliers doing demonstrations and feels a bit special because the shop is shut to non-members,” he said. “Early access goes down very well. [Customers] enjoy the specialness of that.”