150-year-old John Lewis can still teach e-commerce startups a trick or two

JohnLThe Not So Secret E-Commerce Entrepreneur continues… I am on a mission to rid the planet of dirty tongues – with a deluxe range of tongue cleansers, sold via e-commerce. I am almost ready for launch of the AMANO Tongue Cleanser, all the key marketing elements are almost in place.

And at the fulcrum is an e-commerce site built on the battle tested Shopify platform – slickly designed by web-builders Wemakewebsites.

So before I pit my meager marketing budget against the Goliaths of the oral care universe – where can I go for that final bit of pre-match inspiration? Well how about the nation’s favourite store, which is celebrating its 150th birthday right now.

Last weekend I visited the mocked up ‘original’ John Lewis 19th century haberdasher store, within its flagship Oxford Street branch. Designed by the people who worked on Harry Potter Studio – the store is initially all dark wooden cabinets, subdued lighting, with clothes and fabrics piled neatly up to the ceiling.

The exhibition then goes onto remind us of all the reasons we have fallen in love with it (I accept that the typical Wall reader might not agree with me on this – but wait for marriage and kids – and John Lewis becomes indispensible).

Finally at the end we get to see state of the art retail and marketing gadgetry that John Lewis is hoping to employ, to ensure we remain attached to it well into the 21st century.

John Lewis knows that the baton for NFS‘nations favourite store’ – has swiftly passed from M&S to Tesco to them. And they are out to show that they will not be loosening their grip on it anytime soon.

Crucial to this continuing love-in is effective marketing.

Earlier this year, Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis told Marketing Week its marketing activity has played a key role in its success. 
He said; We have been following pretty ruthlessly the omnichannel bricks and clicks strategy and building the brand and marketing has been a part of that.”

He then added: “Marketing itself doesn’t bring the success but it is an absolutely fundamental part of our success because it helps pull everything together.”

The retail marketing battle for the consumers attention and wallet may be now conducted with 21st century weapons such as SEO, PPC and CRO – but at the heart of any effective campaign still lies the basic marketing building blocks of:

Having the right products – and finding clever ways to get the consumer to visit, look around, consider and then choose to buy.

And then once that decision has been made to ‘buy’ – make it as quick and easy to pay as possible. If the queue is too long or you can’t find the till – as we all know, that buy decision may well be reversed.

With e-commerce it’s precisely the same. The longer the consumer lingers on-site – the more there is a chance of a ‘buy’ decision.

Navigation through the product lines through to the payment process must be clear and quick – otherwise (again) you will end up with a discarded cart.

(Of course with e-commerce a discarded cart swiftly leads to a follow up email, whereas John Lewis has yet to pursue shoppers out of the store waving garments left in the changing room).

With all this in mind our The AMANO Shopify site has a couple of video infomercials – hopefully both informative and engaging and able to bridge the inevitable skepticism-gap. Plus a welter of medical support for the claims we make about the benefits of tongue cleansing.

So right now I feel a little like John Lewis’s founder Spedan Lewis 150 years ago – making those last minute checks – and almost ready to open the shop doors for the very first time.

I wonder if anyone will visit…