What Premium Beauty Can Learn From John Lewis' £500 Million Investment in Omnichannel


Earlier this month, John Lewis demonstrated its commitment to embedding omnichannel into its business strategy with a £150 million investment in two new distribution centres. This is part of a 5 year plan that will see the retailer commit £500 million to improving its online systems and distribution network.

The retailer was an early adopter of omnichannel by offering its customers a click and collect option in-store before any of its competitors.Its approach to ominchannel proved to be a game-changer in the development of omnichannel as a critical strategy that many major brands are now subscribing to.

John Lewis now calls its approach: “customer-not-channel”. Instead of focusing entirely on where customers shop, this new approach enables John Lewis to examine customer behaviour and work out the best ways to engage with them.

And crucially for premium beauty, a new element in the John Lewis ominchannel strategy is the ability to combine items from different departments in one parcel. So, customers can order a dress, shoes, jewellery, makeup and perfume, which will be delivered all at once.

John Lewis have grasped that omnichannel is not just the latest buzzword - it is helping to drive their business forward.

Why Does Ominchannel Matter?

Omnichannel is much more than multi-channel.

A multi-channel approach draws distinctions between web, social and in-store experiences.Ominchannel anticpates a boundaryless user journey that can be initiated, dropped, resumed and completed at any touchpoint -and in almost any order.

At its simplest, an omnichannel approach recognises that we are all butterflies at heart, flitting between increasingly colourful touchpoints with the brands we care about.

However, the challenge facing brands is to make this experience both seamless and consistent, so a potential purchaser doesn’t feel any jolts along the way.

Omnichannel is not just about embracing each technological innovation that comes along, but is founded in the traditional, tried-and-tested principles of customer centricity and consistent messaging.

It’s also about ensuring a seamless consumer transition from “interested” to “advocate”.

In our forthcoming Ominchannel Report, we examine some of the shining examples of premium beauty brands and retailers that have incorporated omnichannel into their everyday way of thinking and have made it work.

Here are a few examples:

  • Sephora’s digital and social strategies set it apart. For example, it was the first beauty retailer to use the messaging app Kik, first used successfully by clothing brand H&M to communicate with 275million users.

  • Sephora has also recently been trialling “shoppable snaps”, allowing users to buy items without visiting its site. It’s a clever way of monetising the Snapchat concept.

  • Space NK has a system that enables it to know customer’s preferred method of shopping -so they won’t drive customers to stores if they don’t think it’s relevant to them.

  • Estée Lauder’s new Smashhox store at One Fitzroy, London, is truly interactive -it has a retail area, coffee bar, The Cove infinity photo wall, Video Box as well as holding talks, book launches and dinners.

  • Kiko Milano recruits brand ambassadors called #kikotrendsetters, who film videos of themselves using Kiko products, which may then be loaded on the website.

  • L’Occitane uses digital channels to fuse offline with online. The objective is to use digital to raise curiosity and communicate brand messages.

  • Rituals conducts a lot of data capture in its stores so it can reach out to customers with qualitative content and newsletters eg the #30daysofkarma campaign.

  • Benefit works closely within its local locations to tailor events and activities, including corporate link-ups, private parties or girly gatherings. Brow shaping and waxing helps to differentiate the brand from its competitors.

What is the Omnichallenge?

So if this seamless transition from “interested” to “advocate” works for some, what is preventing it from being realised?

The smarter brands understand the importance of pulling content together to a centralised hub, rather than allowing siloed centres to send conflicting messages out into the world.

It is imperative that the upper echelons of the organisation buy into the approach. They must have the appetite to bring communications and content together into a central hub.It also requires no small degree of imagination, particularly with the use of traditional store space.

The Omnichannel Report

In our latest Premium Market Report, entitled The Omnichannel Report, we help to unravel the intricacies of the omnichannel challenge and how it can work for the premium beauty industry.

In the report you will learn:

  • What is ominchannel and why it matters

  • What are the smartest ominchannel strategies that premium beauty brands and retailers adopting

  • The latest statistics on retail and online beauty -plus what this means for the premium beauty industry

  • Retailer strategies -how to merge the physical with the digital

  • The standalone boutique trend -opportunities for customer engagement

  • Understanding the consumer psyche: how to put the customer at the heart of an omnichannel strategy

  • Top tips in creating a meaningful social media strategy

  • 10 tactics to build a meaningful community

  • Social jargon buster

To get a more detailed overview of what’s included in the report click here.