John Lewis plans to trial a micro-location technology to improve its click and collect service.
The department store's CIO, Paul Coby, informed delegates at the National Retail Federation conference in New York City the proof of concept will be trialled in its Peter Jones store in Sloane Square, London from February 2015.
The location technology will be used to help improve the service where customers come into store to collect items they have ordered online.
At the moment there can be peak periods where customers may have to queue to pick up their goods. However, Coby said the technology will inform retail staff when a customer enters a store so the order can be ready for the customer when they arrive at the click and collect point.
The technology will be tested on John Lewis employees – or partners, as the retailer calls them – when they shop in the store themselves. Once the technology has been ironed out, it will be piloted more widely on customers in other stores, with the hope of implementing it in all John Lewis stores.
The retailer found the technology through its JLab startup incubator, which it ran during 2014.
It launched JLab to find new ways to help customers shop across multiple channels, simplify their lives using the internet of things and to use data for in-store personalisation.
In May 2014, the retailer selected five startups to move into the JLab office space at startup accelerator Level39. Each startup received initial funding of £12,500 and mentoring from John Lewis, Risk Capital Partners, Silicon Valley Bank and the founder of Confused.com.
Four months later, John Lewis chose the technology startup Localz, which specialises in micro-location technology, as the overall winner. It invested £100,000 in the company.
The retailer has been experimenting with technology innovation and startups for the past three years by running competitions and challenges in various forms.
Coby informed delegates at NRF the firm intends to run JLab again in the future, but it may take a different format. In 2012, it ran the Great British Technology Challenge which found technology startup Black Marble – a firm that had developed a system to help fit childrens’ shoes.