M&S, Next and House of Fraser will continue their free click-and-collect services, despite John Lewis’s decision to start charging customers.

  • John Lewis will start charging customers £2 on orders under £30
  • House of Fraser insists offering customers free click-and-collect is “sustainable”
  • Marks & Spencer and Next have no plans to change their delivery strategies
  • Verdict retail analyst Patrick O’Brien believes others retailers could follow John Lewis’s lead

John Lewis revealed at its Christmas event last night that its current model of free click-and-collect was unsustainable, forcing the retailer to make the controversial decision to start charging customers £2 on orders under £30. Click-and-collect orders above that threshold will remain free.

While John Lewis boss Andy Street indicated that the strategy could spark a wave of other retailers to follow suit, close rivals maintained that they had no intention to impose delivery fees on their customers.

Andy Harding, chief customer officer of House of Fraser, which offers free click-and-collect on all orders, said the retailer had no plans to follow John Lewis’ dramatic change in strategy.

“From our perspective, click-and-collect is sustainable, if it wasn’t sustainable, we wouldn’t do it”

Andy Harding, House of Fraser

“We will 100% categorically not. House of Fraser will remain the best [click-and-collect offer] in the market and free for all customers. From our perspective, [click-and-collect] is sustainable, if it wasn’t sustainable, we wouldn’t do it.”

A spokeswoman for Marks & Spencer said: “We offer a free click-and-collect service on all orders and we have no current plans to change that.”

She said that over half of its Shop Your Way Orders are collected in-store.

Next told Retail Week that the retailer has no plans to charge for their in-store collection service. 

Re-evaluating fulfilment strategies

However, Verdict retail analyst Patrick O’Brien said the move would definitely encourage other retailers to re-evaluate their click-and-collect strategies, potentially leading some to follow John Lewis.

Describing the switch in strategy as “very significant” for the rest of the retail industry, O’Brien said: “In the last few years we’ve seen a real battleground between the likes of John Lewis, Next and the department stores in competing to offer the best click-and-collect offers for free, and pushing logistics to take orders as late as possible and get orders out to stores as early as possible.

“For John Lewis to call to a halt to that competition and say ‘come on this is unsustainable’ [is important]. Chances are others will follow.

“It’s really about what will happen next with the likes of Next, Debenhams and House of Fraser and whether or not they follow. I think they will look at this and stack it up and will be considering it.”

Debenhams declined to comment.

Speaking at John Lewis’s Christmas in July event last night in London, Street highlighted the volatility of the fulfilment market by noting the collapse of delivery firm City Link on Christmas Day last year.

“The time has come to take a clear position in the market,” said Street.