John Lewis boss Andy Street believes omnichannel retail will win out over pureplay as shoppers seek to interact with brands across a range of touchpoints.
Speaking at Retail Week Live, Street said: “We’ve rolled the dice on one insight - ominchannel will trump pure-play
“The customer is in charge. They want to interact with John Lewis in all sorts of different ways.”
He urged retailers to funnel their investment into the aspects of business that will support the development of omnichannel, such as the supply chain and IT.
He said the decision to switch investment into omnichannel initiatives “was the most important decision we made back in 2008”. He said John Lewis is focusing on opening new format-stores, driving online growth and initiatives including its click and collect partnership with sister company Waitrose.
Street told Retail Week that John Lewis had partnered with a range of brands to develop products to celebrate the retailer’s 150th anniversary, which falls this year.
He added that the partnership model had helped drive success at the retailer, enabling it to operate free from external shareholders and conflicts of interest. “It allows us to be counterintuitive,” said Street. “I’ve not got shareholders breathing down my neck.”
When asked about his views on the turmoil at the Co-op, which because of its mutual structure has some features in common with John Lewis, Street descrbed the situation as a “tragedy”. “The Co-op is part of our social fabric,” he said. “I wish it would recover it’s mojo.”