When I think of Christmas, like most people, I think about cheesy Christmas songs, lots of great food, John Lewis (more on that later), family, mulled cider, online shopping and a bit of an old fashioned Dickensian snow!

So I thought I’d shoehorn together some of the things that make up Christmas for me and here’s what I have come up with…

It’s basically a John Lewis case study in the style of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. JohnLewis.com will be playing the role of Ebineezer Scrooge and I’ll be playing the spirits of Christmas past, present and future.

The John Lewis Case Study Ghost of Christmas Past

In Dickens’ wintery tale, Ebineezer is visited by a spirit who takes him back to some influential moments of Scrooge’s adolescence. To follow suit I thought it would be cool to take a look at JohnLewis.com at the beginning of the noughties when online shopping was very much still in its infancy.

Using Wayback Machine, an internet library initiative founded by The Internet Archive (a non-profit organisation that aims to index and store copies of a large number of websites) we can take a look at JohnLewis.com’s Christmas past. JohnLewis.com has been archived 1,804 times between December 12, 1998 and December 5, 2013. You can take a look here.

I wasn’t disappointed to see that the John Lewis website of the early 00’s is very different than today. The website launched in 2000 with just 200 product lines and orders were fulfilled direct from the Oxford Street shop. Of course, technology has moved on massively and it’s obvious to see how and where that has influenced the last ten years; but look more closely because I think that the John Lewis journey mirrors Scrooge’s somewhat.

I’ve picked out some screenshots to show you what I mean:

 

Yes, John Lewis was naive, innocent and a lot less shrewd than its present proposition…

The John Lewis Case Study Ghost of Christmas Present

There are two things that define John Lewis right now in my opinion. The Christmas advert and JohnLewis.com.

The Bear and The Hare (currently) has over 10m YouTube views. Not bad! According to Google’s keyword tool there were nearly 80,000 searches for “john lewis advert” in November 2012 and unbelievably that level of interest has doubled in 2013 (Google Trends). Not bad again!

John Lewis Ad Google Trends

The John Lewis advert has become an expectant part of Christmas for a growing number of us now. They’ve cleverly joined the adverts up each year by keeping a consistent, sentimental theme which evokes feelings of sharing, love and family; and as a result we recognise them as John Lewis adverts before we see their logo in the final sequence.

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqWig2WARb0[/youtube]

 

This year’s campaign is more integrated than ever. A microsite supports the TV advert, selected stores feature special bear cave for Children, there are The Bear & The Hare product offerings and both The Bear and The Hare even have their own Twitter accounts.

Behind the buzz of the advert lies the real star of the John Lewis show in my opinion. The website.

From humble beginnings JohnLewis.com is a phenominal success. At £959m, online sales revenue now accounts for 25% of John Lewis’ total trade – which made me chuckle when I think back to 2008 when it was news to hear that johnlewis.com had overtaken Oxford St as the brands best performing store with a turnover of £327m.

Like Scrooge, John Lewis has become shrewd…

Over-Christmas Opportunity

Retailers are squeezing revenue opportunity from every day of the year nowadays – and John Lewis are no exception. The period in which the website used to function in a state of limbo ( a six day gap in 2005 between the 21st – last orders for Christmas delivery – and the 27th – start of the sale) is now one of the busiest periods of the entire calendar.

John Lewis’s managing director, Andy Street, stated that “when we opened our clearance website, at 5 o’clock on Christmas Eve, was our single busiest day online, ever”.

According to Experian, record numbers of people visited UK retailers’ websites on Boxing Day in 2013.

Christmas Sale Banner

Click & Collect

Consumers now have a number of shopping modes available to them — online, in-store, mobile, social etc. Despite this, shoppers’ needs and expectations are not that different than ten years ago. They want to be able to find the right product, get help if they need it, efficiently transact and be able to have it in their possession as quickly as possible.

Bridging the gap between between the convenience of digital shopping and the instant gratification of  in-store shipping is John Lewis’ Click & Collect proposition. Launched in September 2008, it was seen as a quick win to drive multi-channel and now accounts for 35% of online orders at John Lewis. It works on the premise of allowing customers who order by 7pm to pick up their purchase in-store after 2pm the next day.

In September 2013, John Lewis announced that it would be trialling collection service through CollectPlus; a proposition that allows customers the opportunity to collect their orders from local shops instead of John Lewis  stores.

The John Lewis Case Study Ghost of Christmas Future

This is where I’m going to quit shoe-horning similarities between A Christmas Carol and John Lewis. I can’t see into the future and even if I could it probably wouldn’t be one of impending doom for John Lewis. What I would like to predict for John Lewis is a future where the lines between online, mobile and in-store shopping become increasingly blurred…

John Lewis places a huge amount of importance on its use of physical stores as an experiential marketing tool. Their stores deliver a customer centric shopping experience that is memorable for all the right reasons. Of course, John Lewis wants its customers to continue coming into the stores because there’s then scope to continue having that really effective tactile connection. There are even plans to introduce barbers, opticians, bureau de change, post offices and other peripherals to increase footfall and customer experience.

By blurring the lines between online, mobile and in-store, John Lewis can offer the best of all worlds.

The retailer already offers free wi-fi in store and was one of the first retailers in the UK to do so. Mobile commerce has changed customers’ in-store habits (showrooming!) and John Lewis have embraced the situation by offering a price match (which doesn’t extend to pure plays like Amazon) and offering on hand support via a team of customer service advisors who’ll help shoppers use the website while in-store.

So what might be next on the cards?

Personalised In-Store Marketing

According to an OnDeviceResearch survey, 74% of respondents would be happy for a retailer to send a text or email with promotions while they’re using in-store wi-fi. By combining data driven systems with geo-location data, it’ll become possible to deliver personalised messages to clients as they shop in-store. Right message. Right time. Right there and then.

Macy’s has already started to trial Apple’s iBeacon technology to alert shoppers to deals as and when they walk around the store.

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3h0eKGfUfI[/youtube]

 

Instant Shop > Pay > Collect

Using geo-location technology to identify which store a shopper is in, it’ll become possible for customers to scan items on display in-store, check stock and make a purchase via their mobile device. Think “click and collect”, but with instant there and then collection.

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-9tYnXntrQ[/youtube]

 

That’s it! What do you think? Have I missed anything from my John Lewis Case Study? Please leave comments below!