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Newest John Lewis opening 'reinvents department store' with experience focus

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today Nov 18, 2019
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John Lewis is forging ahead with its plans to create more experiential physical retail and on Tuesday opens a new concept at its Southampton store. Here, “experience playgrounds take centre stage” while in-store specialists will advise on everything from fashion and beauty to wine, gardening, interiors and technology “as the John Lewis Partnership explores the future role of the shop in our customers' lives”.


John Lewis is focusing heavily on experiences



It has ‘stay and play’ areas “where customers can take their time experimenting with everything from make-up to gadgets across all the brands on offer,” we’re told. There’s also a brand new farm shop and roof garden from the Partnership's Leckford Estate and the first-ever Waitrose Cookery School inside a John Lewis shop. 

Beauty and fashion gift experiences including a personal styling package with makeover, manicure and brow treatments are also on the agenda.

The store will also include the personal fashion stylists who are available in the retailer's shops across the country. But in Southampton specifically, ‘walk-in wardrobes’ will replace conventional fitting rooms and men’s and women’s style studios will offer customers a place to book free style appointments, peruse rails of clothes picked out for them, read the latest fashion magazines or listen to music on sofas “while they enjoy a glass of wine or a beer”. Men who don’t want a formal styling session, could do a free ‘walk and talk’ style session on the shop floor.

The company is calling its experts in the various areas covered a “retail dream team” and said that the Southampton initiative really is something different and “a unique experiment”. It added that “if these ‘experience playgrounds’ are successful, they could be rolled out across the country”.

Importantly too, the experts will be “impartial” while store staff will be there “to help shoppers make the right choice for them” rather than just trying to make a sale. And it’s promising that the specialists will be able to “radically overhaul customers’ wardrobes or beauty regimes, show them how to cook an impressive dinner party meal or take the perfect selfie with their new smartphone and even visit them at home to help redesign their living space or garden”.

Peter Cross, Customer Experience Director at John Lewis & Partners, said: “Our goal is to offer customers unrivalled access to expertise and impartial advice in as many areas of their lives as we possibly can – in a way that is uplifting and inspiring. 

“We know that shopping for a new gadget or beauty product can be a daunting experience, with so much choice on offer. We want to help navigate customers through that. Our new concept shop is an example of how we’re reinventing the department store of the future to make us stand out from the competition.”

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