There’s quite a lot on offer in Oxford’s new John Lewis, but is the ‘experience’ of shopping the store something that’s been around for years?
John Lewis in Oxford opens tomorrow and wandering around as part of the pre-opening tour on Friday it was hard not be impressed.
This is a very good store and has a lot of elements, all of which add up to a lot more than a place where shoppers go simply to buy products.
From personal styling advice for men to enjoying some crispbread sandwiches in KuPP – the Scandinavian-themed eatery on the top floor – there are a lot of things to do and the store had even put together a document aimed at showing how an entire day can be spent there.
It can, and by the time you’ve test-driven mattresses in the “bed-studio”, taken tea and perhaps digested some much needed advice on which clothes will help you combat advanced middle age, it’s easy to understand how time passes.
The only real question is whether this all adds up to an “experience”, or whether what’s on offer is a series of related things that might all be grouped under “service”?
Getting more personal
John Lewis is clearly of the opinion that what has been done in Oxford equates to “experience”, and that this is what a modern department store should be about.
Indeed, in her introduction to the visit, managing director Paula Nickolds said that today’s store is about giving shoppers the chance to get up close and personal with the brand.
“The only real question is whether this all adds up to an ‘experience’”
To this end, there is “The Experience Desk” on the upper ground floor, where customers can tailor their visit to the store and book treatments, be assisted by a John Lewis partner while shopping and suchlike that will make the day pass.
“Experience” here means “service” or “services” and for many visiting a John Lewis store, this has long been one of the reasons it’s chosen over other department stores.
Experience in a store might actually turn out to be “retail theatre” – where retailers give shoppers reasons to come back and make a visit worthwhile – referred to frequently in the 1990s.
If this is what the Oxford John Lewis is about, then shoppers should feel happy, even if the latest buzzword is something that has been around for more than a couple of decades.
It’s service, whatever you may choose to call it, and John Lewis has always been pretty good at that.