John Lewis customers embrace the internet of things

A John Lewis report into shopping habits shows customers are increasingly embracing technology, seeking connectivity, personalisation and convenience.

John Lewis report reveals changing consumer habits
John Lewis report reveals changing consumer habits

According to a report by John Lewis, shoppers are looking to be more connected than ever, using devices across their purchasing journeys, whether at home, in-store or on the move. They are also buying more "smart" products, which connect them to appliances and systems in their homes.

The second annual John Lewis Retail Report, entitled How We Shop, Live and Look, based on data from customer transactions across its websites and shops, reveals shoppers are eager to access and adopt technology-related services that make their lives easier and shopping more convenient.

It also shows that over the past year John Lewis mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic for the first time on Christmas Day 2013.  On average, more than 50% of the retailer’s web traffic comes from smartphones and tablets.

This milestone of mobile overtaking desktop is reflected across other industries and is not unexpected but John Lewis reports a higher growth of conversion from mobile. The retailer ascribes this to the John Lewis app, with customers who use the app shopping more often.

Convenience is key

Convenience can mean a range of things to different customers depending on their lifestyle.  John Lewis has been extending the ways in which shoppers can click and collect, with a new "click and commute "store opening in St Pancras station this autumn aimed at workers who would like to collect shopping on their way home.

The ability to mix purchase channels and delivery options is considered the norm. At least 50% of purchases have an online aspect, with 23% of customers choosing to research online and then buy in store. 

The report also reveals that people are increasingly ordering during the night with men buying formalwear between 1am and 2am and sleep-deprived parents shopping for nursery items at 4am.

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However, despite the possibilities of online and mobile, 70% of purchases take place in store. Convenience is becoming a priority in store too with John Lewis arming staff on the shop floor with tablets, enabling customers to access product information and purchase without having to wait at a till point. Approximately 10,000 transactions were made this way over the past year.

Connected appliances on the rise

In terms of John Lewis customers’ favourite products over the year, the retailer says personalisation has been key with its Any Shape, Any Fabric furniture design service accounting for nearly 70% of all made-to-order upholstery sales.

Other big winners include connected devices as John Lewis customers make the "internet of things" a reality in their homes. The Nest Learning thermostat which learns a personal schedule and sets itself saw a 30% increase in sales even during summer months. In February the retailer launched a range of Samsung smart washing machines and remote controlled lighting systems sales rose be 216%.

John Lewis says in the future it expects to see a home where all appliances are connected, and can be controlled by one central hub, allowing personalisation and greater lifestyle choice.

A surge in fitness-related devices with sales of wearable tech seeing a 395% uplift is among some of the other product trends for the year.  Popular culture also had an impact on trends with Mary Berry’s Great British Bake Off having a not surprising impact on food mixer sales.

What no one could have predicted is the 2014 loom band craze, which drove weekly sales increases of 295%.

Future tech a priority

Looking to the future, the retailer envisages technology becoming even more important. It is exploring virtual reality 3D images that allow customers to see themselves from all angles and virtual living rooms, enabling shoppers so see furniture in their own homes are being considered.

Click and collect is expect to get more sophisticated with a functionality that triggers customers’ click and collect orders as they enter the shop.

Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis, said: "It seems fitting that in our 150th year as a retailer we are reflecting on the nation’s shopping habits. Since our first shop opened in 1864, John Lewis has a barometer for changing trends and tastes."

"This year’s report is even more insightful than last year’s, with richer data. We hope that in years to come people will turn to our report for a nostalgic glimpse of the trends that shaped the nation’s shopping habits."