The John Lewis Partnership has released plans for new makeovers in stores that will feature “experience playgrounds” on the sales floor.
The trial is primarily being rolled out in Southampton and will be open to the public today, providing visitors with a more “customer-centric” experience. If the redesign is successful, it will be considered a prototype for other stores.
The renovation includes seven “experience playgrounds” across four floors that will offer shoppers the opportunity to attend workshops that will teach them new skills that they can test on products that are on offer.
Lately, department store competitors like Debenhams and House of Fraser have been forced into rescue deals for combined reasons such as changes in shopping habits and the ongoing high-street crisis.
As more British consumers opt-out of shopping during their free time, choosing to spend funds on nights out and mini-breaks, department stores have found themselves competing to stay relevant.
Peter Cross, John Lewis’s customer experience director, said: “Our new concept shop is an example of how we’re reinventing the department store to make us stand out from the competition. Our goal is to offer customers unrivalled access to expertise and impartial advice in a way that is uplifting and inspiring.”
The new concept will include professionals in several different sectors including chefs, gardeners, interior designers and tech specialists. This move aims to combine the best of John Lewis and Waitrose to showcase the sister stores positives in a new light.
The new ´Style Studio’ offers shoppers the chance to book free style-advice appointments and can peruse clothes that have been picked out specifically for them. And for those who want to embrace their technical side, ´The Download´ is available for consumers to test the latest gadgets and attend talks on topics like how to take the perfect selfie.
15-minute drop-in sessions are hosted by interior designers offering advice on how to makeover the home; customers can create magnetic mood boards with carpet, wallpaper and fabric samples.
Chefs will lead courses ranging from pan-Asian dishes to classic techniques. Drinks specialists will be available to host wine, gin and whisky tastings at the homes of customers.
A rooftop garden has also been created and filled with apple trees that sit adjacent to the Leckford farm shop and café. From the 5th December, shoppers will be able to sample a rooftop menu inspired by the flavours of the countryside. Gardening workshops will also be hosted in-store, including projects like how to create a terrarium and wreath-making.