John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners have unveiled a retail dream team of experts including interior designers, chefs and wine connoisseurs, gardeners, gadget specialists, personal stylists and make-up artists.
In a unique experiment, the retailer will launch a customer-centric concept shop at its Southampton location where a combination of services and experiences led by expert Partners will take centre stage on every floor. If these ‘experience playgrounds’ are successful, they could be rolled out across the country.
Customers could start their day at our rooftop farm shop, pause for a 15-minute fashion fix in our style studio and learn to bake bread in the first ever Waitrose & Partners Cookery School to open in a John Lewis & Partners 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 our ‘stay and play’ areas.
At the heart of the shop will be a team of impartial expert Partners on-hand to help shoppers make the right choice for them. Specialists can radically overhaul customers’ wardrobes or beauty regimes, show them how to cook an impressive dinner party meal or take the perfect selfie with their new smartphone and even visit them at home to help redesign their living space or garden.
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, says: “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.”