John Lewis: Human interactions are still the primary driver of loyalty

The department store’s marketing director Becky Brock believes delivering human experiences can be its differentiator over the years to come.


Despite conceding online giants such as Amazon now dominate the retail market, John Lewis’s marketing director Becky Brock believes it is human interactions, not just a focus on digital, that will help her brand stand out.

Speaking yesterday (6 October) at the Festival of Marketing, Brock said John Lewis faced “irrelevancy” if it failed to live up to customer expectations.

She explained: “I read an article that very soon three companies – Amazon, Alibaba and eBay – will account for 40% of the world’s ecommerce. This means there’s a real urgency to rise to the challenge as if we don’t we could become irrelevant.”

According to Brock, prioritising human interactions is what will help John Lewis do this. She said John Lewis is upping its ecommerce game and offering customers more digital personalisation, but added that this would “count for nothing” if the retailer didn’t offer great human experiences.

“In a world where tech and data allow a number of analyses, where there’s also granular attribution and zero-based budgeting, we run the risk of losing sight of the immeasurable and the intangible. For me, that is the human side of retailing,” she added.

“You must embrace tech and digital but you can’t let it lead you, you have to take the lead. Humans still want human exchanges and I still feel that’s the best way to connect on a deeper level. Human interactions are still the primary and core driver of loyalty, and that’s where we’re putting a lot of our energy. It’s crucial for us.”

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  • Pete Austin 6 Oct 2017 at 5:06 pm

    This is really sad. Look, I get that some people go shopping for the experience – the human exchanges as Brock puts it – but not many men, and I suspect not many women would view a regular department store in that way. Fashion brands, or health-and-beauty shops maybe.

  • Gillian Waters 7 Oct 2017 at 9:05 am

    Brock makes an excellent point – keeping digital as a tool, not letting digital drive strategy. Keep it personal John Lewis – if others don’t agree, then they probably wouldn’t shop with you anyway. Bravo

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