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Christmas: God Bless John Lewis

December 1, 2010

Mildly revolutionary types will sneer at my love of the department store John Lewis.

Bite me. I don’t care. John Lewis is – I’ve no shame in confessing – one of the pleasures of Christmas. I often trot through John Lewis when I’ve arrived at Bluewater for annual Christmas shop. I normally get distracted by the many kitchen items I’d quite fancy buying for myself. So much so, I end up cutting short the time set aside for present shopping. Such is the draw of anything displayed on a John Lewis shelf. I like the font. I appreciate the lighting. And the staff are always friendly. I love John Lewis.

Our next door neighbour works for John Lewis too. And she’s adorable. No really, she is. She’s always knocking on our door with her latest culinary creations to share with us. I think of her every time I shop in John Lewis. She epitomises the store. The store is – whether the partnership team like it or not – inextricably linked with her, in my mind at least.

It’s John Lewis I’ve ended up turning to this evening – the second night running – browsing for Christmas presents. I wouldn’t normally do window shopping on the internet. Indeed, shopping for presents is normally left right up until the last minute. So the fact that I’ve started already is unusual for me.

The point is that for the first time ever, I’m deriving pleasure from online shopping. Up until now, online shopping has been a convenience, sometimes a necessity. This year it’s different. Not entirely down to John Lewis – quite a few other stores have come up trumps – but it’s John Lewis which has prompted me to blog about it.

The fact that I’m browsing for gifts, seeing stuff which makes my heart skip a beat, before adding the item to my basket and then thinking about who to give it is unheard of. I normally make a list of things, scratch my head, panic a bit and then start panic buying all sorts of shit just to fend off the inevitable Christmas guilt.

From a web production perspective, John Lewis have got it right online this year. Their website design is enticing. It’s clean uncluttered design is aspirational. They package up stuff and label in it such a way I feel as though they know what it is I need without me realising it myself. The pages load quickly. The items seem reasonable. Every ‘add to basket’ makes me feel more warm and fluffy about myself. Not only am I thinking about other people, I’m being organised, like my pal in Germany is organised year in year out. Not only that, I’m not thinking about the bill at the end of all of this. This is unusual for me. Very unusual for me.

If this is what retail online is meant to be then it’s been a long time coming. Yep, we’ve had the warehouse and reliable experience of Amazon for years now, but John Lewis’ experience online is the perfect substitute – perhaps even better – than being in the store. I’m sure too there will be other similar stores I’ll stumble on in the next few days. I’ll let you know when I find them. For the time being however, the more time I spend window-shopping online, the less I want to actually go into the store either. And that’s a good feeling too.

Oh .. and there’s one other really important thing about this syrupy little post. My online experience has not been ‘all fur coat and no knickers’ either. In a typically hopeless moment, I reached the apparent point of no return and .. wanted to step back a bit. My question? ‘I haven’t created an account on JohnLewis.com and don’t want to complete my order yet. Can I save it somehow?’ That’s what I asked the flustered yet polite sounding man at the end of the phone at the customer support centre, the number for which was advertised on every single page.

“Simple sir,” he replied, “just save it to your bookmarks – all your items will be there when you open up your browser in the morning.”

“Oh, so the products are saved to a cookie before you’ve created a login?” I asked, desperate to project a slightly less hopeless image of myself.

“Yep, that’s right sir.”

A pleasant shopping experience AND a support line whose staff know what they and their customers are talking about.

Gosh. Happy Christmas Andy.

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From → Life & Society

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