John Lewis Partnership launches new experiential store concept

“We are reinventing the department store of the future to make us stand out from the competition”

The John Lewis Partnership is exploring the future role of in-store shopping with the launch of ‘Experience playgrounds’.

In a unique experiment, the retail giant is introducing a customer-centric concept shop at its Southampton location (opening tomorrow – Tuesday 19 November) 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.

John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners will rely on what they call a “retail dream team” of experts, including chefs and wine connoisseurs, gadget specialists, interior designers and personal stylists, to deliver these services.

The ‘playground’ areas include:

Stay and play areas where customers can take their time experimenting with everything from make-up to gadgets across all the brands on offer;

The first ever Waitrose Cookery School inside a John Lewis & Partners shop with cooking classes;

Specialist gardening talks and home consultations about garden redesign;

A brand new farm shop and roof garden from the Partnership’s Leckford Estate;

Beauty and fashion gift experiences including a personal styling package with makeover, manicure and brow treatment.

At the heart of the Southampton store will be a team of impartial expert Partners on-hand to help shoppers – whether it’s taking the perfect selfie with their new smartphone, showing them how to cook an impressive dinner party meal or even visiting them at home to help redesign their living space or garden.

In-store pop-up workshops will provide customers with the opportunity to learn new skills, and over the Christmas period, customers can make festive treats 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.”