Simon Russell, director of retail operations development at John Lewis
1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?
We have a great opportunity to further integrate a very successful department store business and a rapidly growing online business to produce a really compelling omni-channel business. Naturally our focus is on customers and a key driver to become a truly omni-channel business is to ensure we offer them a more convenient, really joined up and engaging shopping experience. It also allows us to showcase the John Lewis brand in parts of the UK where we currently have no physical presence.
2. What is the biggest challenge to your business?
Consumer confidence is key for non-food retailers and often a good indication of sales. And the economists are not predicting significant change over the next few years.
3. With the benefit of hindsight what would you have done differently so far?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing! Whilst very pleased with the investments we have made there are always one or two that we didn’t make that would have made future technology changes much quicker and cheaper.
4. What is the future of the physical store?
Shops will continue to play a critical role in a customer’s omni-channel shopping journey. Technology in shops will help make a customer’s experience more hassle free and inspirational whilst allowing us to extend the assortments and services we offer. Shops will have to continue to evolve too and ensure they can differentiate compared to other channels whether that be about the experience, visual inspiration or expert advice.
5. What will the high street look like in a decade?
I am sure that omni-channel retailers will become the norm and certainly dominate the high streets in primary and secondary locations. The mix of retailers may change with services playing a greater role alongside more online collection points.
6. Will mobile devices be the primary sales channel in the future?
Mobile will see rapid growth for sure and be a primary research tool generating sizeable sales, increasingly with a role as a payment device alongside personalisation. Tablets, which occasionally are classed as mobile, will also increasingly play a key role replacing laptops and desktops in the home. However, shops will remain the primary sales channel.
7. What other retail business do you admire?
I admire Wiggle as a relatively new pure play retailer that has a good specialist assortment backed by good service and value, which has gained respect quickly in a competitive market.
8. If you hadn’t been a retailer/provider-to-retailers what would you have liked to do?
I always fancied being a trader in the city.
9. What marks out of 10 do you give yourself so far for achievement?
I hate marking myself as I am always challenging myself about how I can do things better. Let’s just say I am proud of what I have achieved so far but have lots more that I want to achieve.