John Lewis announcing that it will be making close to zero in profits in the first half got me thinking around how Customer Experience is going to drive the changes for our much loved and in some cases very under-invested department stores.

JLP will invest money in 15 pilot stores with roof top cinemas, bars and in-store classes and putting their partners first.

This is  on top of the focus it will give to extra services, personal shopping, fashion and in-housebrands and the investment it has already put into making its stores and e-commerce look good. 

So, does this means that spending money as profits fall for bricks and mortar retailers is the only answer – I think so yes! However times are tough in retail right now and the landscape is competitive. JLP is having to adapt for both its partners and its customers.

House of Fraser is struggling to reinvent and reinvigorate its customer experience as its looks to reposition itself and close a large number of stores. Debenhams has issued several profits warnings and is embarking on a turnaround strategy with a focus on beauty, new store design and added foodservices. 

It seems that customer expereince in all its forms is at the heart of what JLP is planning. It will still need to work on the seamless integration between on-line and stores but the store trial will help answer some questions. 

However, there is clearly no time to wait as the market and customers expectations are moving rapidly.