Picked out as a “top eCommerce store in the UK” based on revenue, John Lewis is a national powerhouse of fashion, food, home furnishings, toys, DIY products and more. Generating £10.2bn revenue in 2018 and with 468k Instagram followers, it’s fair to say they’re a massive, all-around retailer and we’re going to breakdown their eCommerce success.
Get your notepads at the ready. We’ve got a bunch of insightful takeaways that you can easily apply to your business – regardless of the industry.
John Lewis & Partners is a chain of high-end department stores operating throughout the United Kingdom. The business has grown from strength to strength, offering multiple shops and services. Plus, it now partners with high-end food retailer Waitrose and others.
Aside from having easily recognisable site icons, simple design, clear and concise headings, easy product filtering and clever search navigation, there are lots of unique aspects of the John Lewis site that are helping them to achieve eCommerce success. Let’s take a look at a few in more detail…
When you visit an online retailer, usually the first page you go to is the homepage. John Lewis has an excellent homepage. It consists of prominent calls to action, an easy-to-navigate menu and timely promotions. Plus, its minimalist theme is very on-brand and easy on the eye – catering to their wide target audience.
One of the most important aspects of their homepage is that they include timely content promotions. So, you can see that currently, they have a push on their iPad and other products within the Apple range.
By making a feature of this product on the homepage it helps to boost sales and awareness. Moreover, by offering a 3-year guarantee on the product it can give users more of an incentive to buy.
Urgency is then also created by adding the final date the offer runs until – something many retailers both big and small, do to boost sales.
The same applies to the “Beauty” landing page. You are taken to a page where certain products are being promoted at that one time. For example, the Narciso Rodriguez perfume range and then “vegan beauty” which is a range that’s increasingly popular and topical.
Not only are you given the option to “Shop now” but you can also “Read the article” about the range. This is a great way to show that they’re actively involved in veganism and hence, are listening to segments of their audience. This helps to improve user experience and push relevant content to the visitor, where they can spend time reading about the brand and building a strong relationship.
Alike any great eCommerce site, John Lewis use relevant pop-ups to create urgency for their visitors. However, unlike other retail sites, John Lewis makes their pop-ups less invasive which otherwise can be negative to users. Instead of the pop-up filling the whole screen and being hard to get rid of, they’re included in the site design on selected pages.
For example, on the homepage, the messaging “Get the latest trends, inspiration and new arrivals” is shown above the top bar to stand out to the user. This shows that without signing up to these emails, the user won’t be in touch with what’s new on-site. Something that, in this day and age, can be seen as a huge negative – say hello to FOMO (fear of missing out).
Once you navigate to a different page, the messaging can disappear and instead, you may receive another pop-up message that’s relevant to the page you’re browsing. Tailoring these messages to particular pages makes the user feel valued and adds a personal touch.
Something that you don’t see on many sites is to be able to filter products out that aren’t in stock. Many a time, the retailer will want to show all of their products available, particularly if it’s a best seller that’s generating lots of sales and traffic. That’s regardless of them being in stock or not.
However, John Lewis has added a toggle function where you can hide products that are out of stock, so that everything you’re browsing, you’re able to buy straight away. This can easily be turned “on” and “off”.
Initially, the products are listed with this search function turned off, meaning you can see the full range of products even if they are out of stock at the present time. This enables the user to see all of the brands and products that are stocked so that they know whether or not they can actually buy their desired product in the future if they wanted.
Most digital marketers out there will agree that content is key. Hence, having an up to date blog is super important to not only rank well in SERPs for your products but also for key terms that users are searching for.
Of course, John Lewis would like to sell more vegan beauty products. However, in order to do so, users will have to be invested in the product or at least, persuaded to buy it. Their vegan beauty landing page alone won’t always do that.
For example, the user could know that they don’t want to spend more than £30, it must be skincare, specifically a cleanser. Filtering helps to sort the product selection down to 24 products, omitting out of stock items. However, that’s still a lot of products to choose from.
With users often buying online in “micro-moments”, many visitors won’t have the time to search through every product and see what ingredients are included or what promise the product is making and this vital information is hard to understand from short descriptions or product titles alone. Hence, as a brand, you should be supplying that critical information to help turn a browsing consumer to a buying customer.
As a result, within the John Lewis “vegan beauty” article, they address the key question, which also has great search volumes, “What are the best vegan beauty brands?”.
By creating this blog post that caters to this information, it gives the user useful information that helps push them further down the sales funnel and makes them feel as though John Lewis are a source of support they can trust when buying new products.
The final point for the site-wide findings is their clever use of colour on category pages. As the website theme is very minimalistic and clean with the neat fonts, white backgrounds and plain banners, the pop of colour is extremely eye-catching and draws the user in.
The coloured information includes price discounts, messaging such as “Reduced to clear” which is also available as a filter when browsing the product categories and finally “Exclusive to John Lewis & Partners”. Each message is used to show the consumer that the product is a good deal, not available elsewhere, giving both the product and brand prestige.
Tip: If the product has been reduced in price more than once, it’d be good show this like the above example. This shows what a great discount the product is, making the user feel like they’re getting even more of a bargain.
One of the products shown above also has a star rating and the figure “(5)” to show the number of reviews the product has received. Star ratings are another great way of encouraging sales and so it’s important to incorporate this data into the product listing where possible.
As well as the on-site content, there are multiple ways that John Lewis market their brand and products, off-page. We will discuss some of these tactics below:
One of their biggest social media channels, John Lewis’ Instagram has over 468K followers creating a massive audience for them to market their products to.
As you scroll down their Instagram feed, you can see that their posts are consistent to the brand, using similar product image to those on site when promoting certain products, using the same models that are seen on site with a few user-generated images that are shared throughout the feed at particular times.
As seen above, they often post in bursts of three so that the theme looks planned and aesthetically pleasing as well as showcasing useful content.
Remember: It’s important that you have a clear social media strategy in place with carefully chosen content within your feed.
You want your social channels to look professional and planned. It’ll say a lot about your brand and the kind of experience users can expect when buying from you.
Not only do they post high-quality images but they make use of Instagram Stories and Highlights, too. When used creatively, Instagram Stories are a great way to get users more involved with the brand by allowing influencer takeovers, showing behind the scene footage of campaigns or products and more.
These Stories can then be saved as a “highlight” which, in John Lewis’ case, they use for the following:
Highlights can then easily be removed if it’s out of date, for example, in the above case the “Christmas” highlight or added to when a relevant Instagram Story has been posted. It’s important that you create a relevant cover photo for the Highlight to give a professional look and make sure that the caption is relevant and concise due to the character limit.
The John Lewis Stories vary from video content, animations, still images and promotional pieces with “see more” links that link out to particular products or product pages. They’re a great addition to help further promote a campaign and ensure it’s carried out across all brand channels, making it clear to customers that they are promoting over certain periods.
Plus, more people are using social media to get fashion or interior inspiration and keep up with the latest trends. As a result, in some ways, allocating efforts here can be the door to generating high levels of traffic to your website.
Aside from social media, John Lewis also delivers a great email experience. Dotdigital‘s 2017 Hitting The Mark report saw John Lewis as the equal 3rd place winner. It was also ranked in position 1 for the Department Store Sector. But why was that?
Dotdigital stated that the quality of John Lewis’s emails and overall customer experience was well aligned with its premium brand status – something that is also carried out on social media.
“Almost every email that landed in our inbox made us feel like a truly valued customer.” – Dotdigital
Just like the site-wide findings, our email findings tell us that the user is looked after and thought of. The email content demonstrates noticeable gender segmentation and depending on the user behaviour, relevant automation emails are delivered such as abandoned basket emails.
Did you know? We are Dotdigital Partners – if you’d like some extra help getting started with email, we’re simply a phone call away.
There are plenty of other eCommerce tactics that John Lewis have mastered, though hopefully now you’ll have 8 key takeaways to help you further improve your online presence both on-site and off-site.
If you too would like to achieve eCommerce success, speak with our team of experts to see how we can help. Contact us today – we’re always happy to discuss your needs!