In a fragile retail climate, we can learn more about the success stories than ever. John Lewis has been one of retail’s greats in 2013, building upon their position in the industry and gaining crucial percentiles in sales figures. In one of the holiday seaon’s most important weeks ending 7th December, John Lewis’ sales were up 1.8% compared to the same period last year, and fashion sales were up 4.9%. Online sales were up by 22% in that week and now account for a third of John Lewis’s business. We looked at the retail data to see what’s behind their successes.
“Never knowingly undersold”
EDITD market analytics software makes it easy to see that, when compared to four of its local department store competitors (Debenhams, House of Fraser, Selfridges and Marks & Spencer), as well as international counterpart, Macy’s, John Lewis has the largest online selection, with 80,255 products currently online.
John Lewis’s pricing is competitive, putting their “never knowingly undersold” tagline into practice. They have established a reputation for being a mid-tier retailer, not somewhere customers would go for an absolute bargain, but rather a trusted and informed seller of quality products. Yet their pricing shows they have covered all grounds – with an offering under £20 only beaten by Debenhams. Better still, their appeal is broad: confident investment in price points £80-£300 communicates quality to the consumer – a retailer who knows their premium product. They even give luxury department store Selfridges a run for their money, out stocking them at high price points including £1,400-£1,500.
John Lewis stocked 9 of 10 bestselling trends
In a previous article, we revealed the 10 trends that were the biggest commercial hits during 2013. John Lewis stocked 9 of the 10 during 2013, but to varying degrees. The hugely successful cropped tops for example, were only introduced in 251 womenswear styles through the year. Check prints however were introduced in 1,080 products for women and 1,503 for men. Again, bomber jackets, enormously successful across the high-street, were only introduced in 86 styles although leather apparel had 1,428 styles and printed trousers 1,131 styles. Dungarees were skipped altogether for womenswear.
Successful replenishment strategy
John Lewis pay close attention to data, and are not swayed by hype around trends: they edit and select according to their customer’s taste points and it works for them. Looking at items which have sold out and been restocked this season shows a consistent pattern: repeated restocks of simple, good quality knitwear, John Lewis’s star the Barbour jacket, draped knits, lace dresses and functional activewear. All these items sit within a tight palette of blues, greys, dark greens, red and neutrals. Their successful styles aren’t erratic slipstream trends – they are stylish, lasting pieces with subtle nods to season. This approach builds trust with their consumer, that their John Lewis purchases are sensible investments.
The retailer is acting upon last year’s successes. Our data shows that Mango saw the highest number of product sell outs during the Christmas 2012 build-up. This Christmas, John Lewis increased their Mango offering by 21%. They’ve also grown Barbour by 227% (including an exclusive with the outerwear brand), Warehouse by 60% and Ted Baker by 167% following good results last Christmas.
Top social customer care
John Lewis have really sussed out how to speak to their audience, as shown by yet another number 1 hit off the back of their Christmas ad campaign. The story they have spun around the Christmas Advert 2013 starring the Hare and his friend Bear has had an impressive 10 million+ YouTube views. Their twitter strategy as a whole is bullet proof. Their @JohnLewisRetail account promotes new products, retweets influencers and links through to their live Q&A’s with experts on Facebook. They have a separate account for customer services (@JLcustserv) where members of staff identify themselves by name and respond to every enquiry.
Being a cooperative underpins John Lewis’s people-first ethos – the service feels trustworthy. This is bolstered with site reviews, useful services like Click & Collect and Collect Plus, and product guarantees. It’s also reflected in campaigns like their involvement in Christmas Jumper Day on the 13th December for Save the Children and their social media hunt to find the 5 year old sender of this letter. Being real and approachable in this way, across such a large corporation is no mean feat, taking resources and a great deal of consideration. The sales results however, show it’s time and money well spent.
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