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John Lewis takes another step towards multi-channel utopia

Karl Flinders

Retailer John Lewis has taken a step towards creating a multi-channel business by deploying software that gives customers the same experience regardless how they buy.

John Lewis is using an order management system from Sterling Commerce which will provide online, telephone and in-store customers with the same experience.

Web sales are becoming increasingly important and retailers are creating integrated systems that support both these channels.

Dave Robinson, senior vice-president of international field operations at Sterling Commerce, said the integration of different shopping channels is essential today.

John Lewis is working on a project to integrate its in-store and web order systems to create a single view of customers to help it cross-sell products.

The project, which involves developing software to link in-store and web order systems, as well as Epos terminals, will be completed in 2011.

Retailers have multiple channels to market - online, catalogue and stores - each of which records customer information separately.

Like banks, retailers realise they are missing cross-selling opportunities by not having a clear view of how customers buy, making it difficult to analyse trends.

John Lewis began its online sales strategy in 2000 when it acquired Buy.com. The site took until 2005 to become a profitable business for the retailer, when it accounted for £115m of its total sales.

In 2008, John Lewis made £327m worth of online sales, overtaking sales at its flagship branch in London's Oxford Street. Online sales accounted for 13% of total sales last year and increased by 22% compared with 2007.


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