LONDON: John Lewis has become feted for its Christmas advertising campaigns but the retailer has also observed that the festive period signals longer term shifts in behaviour, including increased use of smartphones for shopping online.

Tom Rooney, mobile product manager at John Lewis, shared some of the lessons the company has learned since the launch of its mobile strategy with the audience at the recent Internet Retailing Expo held in Birmingham.

And he related how every year over the Christmas period the retailer sees an increase in visits to its digital store being made through smartphones – and that Christmas boost sets the trend for the coming year.

Christmas 2016 marked a particularly important turning point. "Last Christmas smartphones became the most popular way for people to shop with us online," Rooney reported.

Smartphones outstripped computers and tablets for online shopping for the first time, and so far that dominance has continued in 2017. (For more details, read WARC's exclusive report: John Lewis: ten things we've learnt about mobile shopping.)

Overall, some 40% of sales come from online channels, with half of those from tablets and smartphones.

But there is no standard customer journey. "They criss-cross across different channels," said Rooney and that means the retailer has to consider what happens before and after purchase and what that implies for website and app design.

Because most customers will have interacted with the retailer on a different channel before, they arrive at different points in their purchase journey and with certain expectations of the brand.

One consequence of this, for example, is that the product page has become the new home page as people arrive directly from a search engine or an email.

"Things that we think are important to put in front of our customers – we can't rely on the home page to do that," Rooney explained. Instead, branding and the brand promise – the 'never knowingly undersold' pledge John Lewis made in 1925 – need to be put across the website.

While the retailer is successfully adapting to current online behaviour, it is also preparing for smart TVs and watches to join the roster of consumer shopping options in the near future.

"What I think is probably more interesting is that some of those products will change the shopping ecosystem," Rooney stated.

Data sourced from WARC