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06 BREAKINGNEWS


IT STRATEGY SUPPORTS JOHN LEWIS GROWTH


J


ohn Lewis is bucking the trend, despite the London 2012 Olympic Games and weather dampening recent depar tment


store sales. They increased 6.2% year-on-


year to £56.6 million in the week to July 28. In the previous two weeks the retailer enjoyed rises of 11.2% and 17.3% respectively. And first half sales growth was 12.9%. Andy Street, John Lewis


managing director, acknowledged that the UK retailer “substantially outperformed a slow market”. New ‘Home’ shop format


openings, plus growth in its established business and a 43.5% first-half increase in online sales gives Paul Coby, John Lewis IT director plenty to keep him busy – but also plenty to be positive about. “Retail is very competitive, fast


moving and there’s never any room for complacency,” he said, speaking exclusively to Retail Technology. Coby became John Lewis’s first IT director earlier this year, having previously been British Airways chief information officer.


He commented: “It compares


to the airline business around 2002-4, when online really took off and that industry was also being revolutionised by technology. So it is fascinating place to be, where IT is coming to the top of everybody’s agenda, throughout retail. There is a realisation that IT is one of the major enablers.” Coby added that IT needs to


take its queue from the business: “That’s what the agenda is for. So clearly what we’re about is delivering the omnichannel proposition we’ve got at John Lewis, which is about how we


FRAUD REPORT FINDS LOSSES GROW A new report into loss prevention has found that UK retailers


experienced losses of £3.4 billion due to theft and fraud in 2012, a 10% increase on last year. Conducted by retail research company Martec International and sponsored by cash handling equipment maker Volumatic and stocktaking, supply chain and merchandising software provider RGIS, “The Retail Fraud Study” conducted detailed interviews with loss and fraud prevention professionals at 100 of the UK’s top retailers, including Tesco, Marks & Spencers, John Lewis and HMV, accounting for 42% of the UK retail market. Frances Riseley, Martec’s deputy managing director who oversaw the


project, commented: “Worryingly for retailers, 22% of this was due to theft by their own staff, highlighting the importance to retailers of installing a positive culture to prevent losses. These surprisingly high losses come against a backdrop of a difficult trading period creating more uncertainty for UK retail.”


RETAIL TECHNOLOGY JULY/AUGUST 2012


join up the different channels,” he explained. He said the integration of the


customer experience across its growing channel base was key to ongoing success. Examples such as the expansion of click and collect services to its Waitrose brand and streamlining the instore returns process, regardless of whether the customer bought the item online, give the customer control, he said. As result the retailer’s IT


agenda is full. It earlier this year announced its intention to expand its IT depar tment (John Lewis in IT recruitment drive, 11 March 2012, RetailTechnology.co.uk). It also launched a mobile-optimised version of its website, added PayPal, introduced free instore Wi- Fi and tablet-assisted selling, and launched a Facebook e-commerce platform, to name just few of its recent initiatives. A new electronic point-of-sale


(EPoS) roll out of PCMS systems is also underway and Coby repor ted: “What I hear from the Par tners is that they’re delighted, because it takes away any hassle associated with serving customers. And that’s what you want, you want technology to enable people to do their jobs better.” Coby added: “Our omnichannel


agenda exists to give our customers the flexibility to buy from us whichever way they prefer and the IT enables the ways we join that experience up. We see increasing numbers using tablet PCs to access johnlewis.com, for instance. “They know that they can


be ordering an item at 7pm this evening and it’ll be there to pick up from the local store at 2pm the next day. We need to make sure shopping with us is an enjoyable experience.”


u Retail respondents taking part in a new survey commissioned by Vidyo recorded significantly below average industry responses to a question asking about board-level expectations: 53% for ‘increased efficiency of collaboration’ (survey average 63%); 50% for reduced travel costs (average 61%), and 41% for ‘improved relationships between


colleagues or with customers (average 46%).


u Quail Digital’s ‘Pro5’ headset system has been officially approved by KFC for use in the brand’s UK and Ireland outlets, having been installed in 160 sites within the UK. The wireless communications system has been designed specifically for order taking in drive thru restaurants.


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