John Lewis has revealed that it has become the first major department store chain to adopt Google Street View.
The mapping of the London Oxford Street store is one of three trials the department store is running over the Christmas period to improve customer experience. Google recently added airports and train stations, including Gatwick Airport, Manchester and most of the London mainline stations, to its Street View database.
Simon Russell, director, retail operations development at John Lewis, said: “We intend to keep investing and innovating in our shops so that they remain compelling and hassle-free places for customers, offering multiple reasons to visit them. Partly this will see us use an increasing amount of technology to make shopping easier and offer more ‘in shop help’.”
Visitors to the retailer’s seven-floor, flagship store will now be able to virtually walk the aisles and plan their trip using the virtual tour designed by Ideal Insight.
If the Google Map trial is successful, the virtual tour could be rolled out to other branches in the next two years.
In addition, John Lewis is trialling transactional tablets in its John Lewis Cheadle, Brent Cross and Peter Jones stores, to help customers beat the queues at tills. The tablets will be fully linked to the shop’s till systems, enabling customers to complete their purchase in the shop or arrange a home delivery with the member of staff who advised them on the shop floor.
The tablets will be trialled in a number of departments, including technology and white goods.
Meanwhile, John Lewis is trialling ChargeBox, a service that allows customers to charge their mobile phones and tablets for for free while they shop.
The trial, in its final development stage in the retailer’s Peter Jones and Watford shops, will allow customers to connect up their devices in individual, locked units, for 30 minutes. The charging stops after 30 minutes and the device remains in the unit until the owner returns with the key to release it.
John Lewis has installed wall mounted units in the audio and TV departments in the trial stores, as well as free-standing units next to its ‘Place to Eat’ cafes in both shops. If successful, the ChargeBoxes will be rolled out to other John Lewis shops in summer 2014.
Department store chain Leekes had its Coventry-based shop mapped on Google last year.