JLAB challenge seeks the future of retail
Written by Peter Walker
The John Lewis Partnership’s JLAB technology innovation programme has launched a challenge to find startups and established businesses which are creating retail experiences which could shape how we shop in the future.
Successful entrants will have the opportunity to develop their ideas with John Lewis & Partners, as it invests in innovative service and services.
The department store has already introduced Experience Desks which offer customers concierge style shopping, and has experimented with a range of events and experiences in its shops, from gin masterclasses to cinema screenings.
Peter Cross, director of customer experience at John Lewis & Partners, said the business is actively looking to engage with the brightest and most entrepreneurial minds in the nation, “whether that be a new technology solution to make shopping more convenient, or an idea that will fundamentally transform how the nation shops”.
This new experiential retail theme follows two other JLAB challenges that launched earlier this year - health and wellbeing and reducing the impact of plastic waste.
After receiving over 200 entries across both challenges, three health and wellbeing business were selected following the pitch day, to develop customer facing, digital propositions which could provide Waitrose & Partners customers with advice and inspiration to make it easier to lead healthy lifestyles and eat more healthily.
Research projects with Kafoodle and OME Health are now underway and Best in Bag has developed a prototype. Further discussions will now be explored to see if the prototype can potentially work for the partnership in 2019.
Four businesses which can help reduce plastic waste by reusing and reducing food, liquid and postal packaging were selected at last month’s pitch day. One of the businesses - CupClub - will start a trial in the next few months within the partnership’s head office in London and options are now being investigated with the three other businesses.
Entries for the experiential retail challenge close at midnight on 25 November. The pitch day takes place in February, with businesses presenting to a panel of seven judges, made up of senior leaders from across the John Lewis Partnership.