British department store, John Lewis, is to invest £4 million in a new customer service initiative, which will see 8,000 sales associates receive iPhones to enable them to help shoppers in store.
Loaded with a dedicated “Partner app”, the tool will give them the ability to provide information about products, view customer reviews, check stock availability in stores and in the Milton Keynes warehouse, and place orders immediately.
The aim is to strengthen the retailer’s omnichannel customer experience, and to put an end to customers having to wait for employees to go and check stock rooms.
Craig Inglis, John Lewis’s customer director said: “As online and physical worlds increasingly come together, this initiative, which forms the foundation of our digital strategy for shops, will support our Partners in offering great customer service in a digital world.”
The app was tested in Cambridge over the past five months, and will now roll out to 20 stores following a training programme this summer. During the trial, half of all online purchases made in-store during its busiest week, were assisted by a member of the sales team using the app.
“During the trial in our Cambridge store, customer feedback was overwhelmingly positive. It consistently speeded up response times to customer queries as Partners didn’t need to leave the customer to find answers, or complete a purchase. This is just the beginning. We will keep adding to the Partner App in the future with new, innovative ways to help our customers,” Inglis added.
Update: This story originally referred to the app as a “clienteling” tool, which suggests there is personal information of the shopper stored in order to enable tailored recommendations. While that doesn’t seem to be the case at this point, it does speak to where the future of the service could move.