Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event with Craig Inglis, customer director at John Lewis, the man behind the company’s phenomenally successful Christmas advertising campaigns.

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He recalled joining John Lewis in 2008 and focusing on developing the emotional connection between the company and its customers. After a couple of forays he found his stride with monster hits including The Long Wait, Man in the Moon, Monty the Penguin, and The Snowman.

Senior executives from Budgens, Dwell, Blackwells and Office Shoes, were among those who heard how Inglis has recently broadened his remit as he moved over from his marketing director role to taking on the newly created position of customer director: “I’ve added the end-to-end customer experience and this has transformed the role.”

He told those gathered at The Delaunay in central London that his role reflects the increasing omni-channel nature of retail today – with the majority of John Lewis customers now buying across multiple channels. And the likes of Click & Collect have become extremely popular.

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This has added complexity to the business and driven serious investment in new systems: “We used to be focused solely on shops but today [with omni-channel] our customers shopping behaviours have changed for good and we need new systems and processes to meet their needs. My job is to mirror these changes on to the organisation and make sure we keep driving innovation to meet our customers’ needs.” he explains.

Despite the rise of digital the store remains a pivotally important component in the mix, according to Inglis, who says the reality is that shops drive a significant level of revenue – both in-store as well as directly influencing online sales too.

“We don’t necessarily have to sell things in the stores themselves so we are creating shops that are much more focused on experiences as well as the core assortment” he says, citing pop-up restaurants and beauty spas as examples of the initiatives the company has launched.

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He acknowledges that there are plenty of challenges to deal with at John Lewis as it becomes increasingly omni-channel but that at the heart of this will be the management of the customer experience, which looks set to keep Inglis busy for some time.

Retail Insider would very much like to thank Craig Inglis and the sponsors Bond Dickinson, PCMS Group and K3 Retail. Without their much appreciated support this event would not have been possible.