John Lewis has launched the mobile-optimised version of its website.

John Lewis today launched the mobile-optimised version of its website that it announced last week.

The site is accessible at or by visiting the retailer’s existing site from a mobile device. The optimised site, created by Usablenet, renders the department store group’s existing website, including both navigation and individual product pages, more easily navigable on the smaller screens and touch-screen navigation found on smartphones.

It’s an effort similar to the one unveiled by Marks & Spencer in May. M&S recently said its mobile-optimised site had reached 1.2m unique visitors in its first five months.

One notable feature on the John Lewis site, usually seen only in apps, is the location-aware store locator, which uses the phone’s GPS capability to detect the postcode of the user’s current location in order to find the nearest John Lewis store.

But the launch does not necessarily place John Lewis permanently on one side of the debate between advocates of mobile-optimised site and enthusiasts of phone-specific apps. The retailer is using its new site to inform development of an app, currently being scoped out for a potential launch in 2011.

As Ronan Shields notes in New Media Age, sitting on the fence in the app-vs-browser debate is a smart mobile strategy for John Lewis. In the long run, it’s probably best to have both.