How Waitrose & John Lewis are pivoting to meet new needs

Laura Jacobson
Head of Insight - RA UK

Date : 27 August 2020

Latest developments include queuing solutions, earlier Christmas shopping, a new marketing campaign, and innovative services....

Virtual queuing trial

Six Waitrose stores and three John Lewis stores will trial a virtual queuing system, reports The Grocer. The trial will run for four weeks, encouraging shoppers to scan a QR code to hold their place in line. They will receive a text message when it's their turn to go to checkout.

Sainsbury's recently trialed a similar initiative in five stores, testing to see if shoppers were receptive to this solution.

The potential re-emergence of local lockdowns, the approach of the busy Christmas peak period, and the return of colder, wetter weather are all compelling reasons to find workable queuing solutions. 

New marketing push ahead of Ocado switchover

Ahead of the switch-off of Waitrose products from the Ocado platform on 1st September, the retailer has been promoting its stores and grocery online service as the only place to buy its products. Taglines such as "Thank you, Ocado, we'll take it from here" and "Ocado, we're leaving and we're taking the quinoa" put a lighthearted spin on the changes. While behind the scenes has been significantly ramping up capacity, this emphasis on product quality and uniqueness appeals to shoppers who the retailer hopes to convert across from Ocado rather than swap to M&S equivalent items.

Christmas comes early

Searches for Christmas on over July and August are up 42% on last year, reports the retailer. Key items searched for include Christmas puddings, mince pies, and mincemeat. Waitrose unveiled its Christmas range earlier in the month, with innovative twists including "Cheese Nougat", chocolate candles, and venison wellington. These won't hit the shelves for some time, but shoppers seeking Christmas decorations can now shop with John Lewis online, as the retailer launches its Christmas ahead of schedule to cater for increased interest.

Furniture rental trial

John Lewis has partnered with rental marketplace Fat Llama to trial renting furniture including desks, chairs, tables and sofas for three, six or 12 months. Shoppers can buy at any time with payments already made deducted from the price. Initially the service will only be available in greater London.

Johnathan Marsh, Partner & Director of Home at John Lewis said “Attitudes towards renting items and the sharing economy have dramatically shifted in recent years, and we know that renting, reselling items and recycling them is a growing priority for our customers."