John Lewis is to open its first experimental concept shop, which will offer customers access to chefs, gardeners, interior designers, gadget specialists, make-up artists, personal stylists, interior designers and wine experts.
John Lewis said if the trial is successful, the new concept could be rolled out to stores across the country. Analysts said this new service would fit well with John Lewis’ Northern flagship Leeds store, which is one of the most ambitious stores to be launched in recent years.
When it opened in 2016, John Lewis said its Leeds store was the most service and experience led to date, offering customers a range of services from in-store beauty spa concepts to travel agents.
Specialists will give talks, courses and informal advice to customers at the first concept shop, which will open in Southampton tomorrow.
John Lewis said the new shop will embrace changes in the way the nation shops. Following the rise of online shopping, retailers are keen to turn shopping into an enjoyable experience that offers customers services that they can’t get online.
The firm said “experience playgrounds” will take centre stage while in-store specialists will advise on everything from wine and gardening to interiors and technology as John Lewis explores the future role of the shop in customers’ lives.
The new shop will include “stay and play” areas where customers can take their time experimenting with everything from make-up to gadgets.
It will also have the first ever Waitrose Cookery School which will offer customers cooking classes. Customers can also buy beauty and fashion gift experiences such as a personal styling package with a blow dry, manicure and brow treatment. Expert gardeners will also give talks and home consultations about garden redesign.
John Lewis said customers can start their day at its rooftop farm shop, pause for a 15-minute fashion fix in the style studio and learn to bake bread in the first ever Waitrose & Partners Cookery School to open in a John Lewis shop. They could compile a moodboard for a home refurbishment in The World of Design, attend a workshop on gardening and experiment with make-up or gadgets in one of the “stay and play” areas.
It said there will be a team of impartial, expert partners on-hand to help shoppers make the right choice for them. It added that specialists could radically overhaul customers’ wardrobes or beauty regimes, show them how to cook an impressive dinner party meal, take the perfect selfie with their new smartphone or visit them at home to help redesign their living space or garden.
The firm said: “There will be many opportunities to learn a new skill, with pop-up workshops ranging from barista and photography courses to wreath-making and modern calligraphy. Over the Christmas period, customers can learn to make festive treats such as gingerbread and yule logs at the Waitrose & Partners Cookery School, as well as receive advice on how to style a Christmas tree or find the perfect party outfit.”
Peter Cross, customer experience director at John Lewis & Partners, said: “Our goal is to offer customers unrivalled access to expertise and impartial advice in as many areas of their lives as we possibly can - in a way that is uplifting and inspiring.
“We know that shopping for a new gadget or beauty product can be a daunting experience, with so much choice on offer. We want to help navigate customers through that.
“Our new concept shop is an example of how we’re reinventing the department store of the future to make us stand out from the competition.”