Established in 1864 with one small shop specialising in selling textiles, the John Lewis Company is now one of the largest retailers in Britain with twenty-three department stores and one hundred and twelve Waitrose supermarkets. The story has been one of dramatic expansion and growth: for example, in autumn 1988, a new store opened at High Wycombe and a large extension to John Lewis Edinburgh was completed. The following October John Lewis Aberdeen began trading. In 1990, Trewins in Watford was transferred to a new site twice the size of the old one; Bonds in Norwich was extended by 40 per cent; and an entirely new department store of advanced design was opened at Kingston-upon-Thames. John Lewis Oxford Street underwent a major refurbishment program during 1991 and 1992 and a major department store opened in Cheadle, located to the south of Manchester in October 1995, and a Waitrose supermarket, acquired from a local independent, was opened on the southern tip of Norwich the same month. Further expansions were planned for Bluewater, Kent in 1998 and Glasgow in 1999.
However, such growth, and the growing numbers of employees required to staff the sites, called for a clear sense of direction, and a clear service strategy, so that new employees could understand the ethics of the companies and pass it on to the customers. John Lewis Partnership is a privately managed company that started by operating shops and department stores. The business is an employee co-owned, where all the team members are associates of the company. John Lewis Partnership operates in the United Kingdom. The company’s headquarters are in London, UK, and it employs about 74,800 people.
The company engages itself in supplying consumer products to the fashion, domestic and foodstuff markets, largely in the United Kingdom. The operations of this firm are divided into two groups: Waitrose and John Lewis. John Lewis Department Stores and Waitrose Supermarkets are two retail segmentations that the corporation runs to serve Waitrose and John Lewis. To achieve a consistent high level of quality and customer service it is essential that all staff feel valued, that they are well treated, well trained and given a sense of confidence and responsibility. It is notable that, unless you have a fair wages policy and do not build resentment by only giving the cream to the already fat cats, then forget it.
Critical Assessment of the Strategic Information Needs of John Lewis
Strategic information systems planning (SISP) is the process of recognising a set of computer-based applications, which aids a business in carrying out its business arrangements and realising its company targets. Strategic information system planning is an imperative activity in assisting information management and top administration to make out strategic applications and adjust information technology to fit the business requirements.Information is a central factor for management of any business. A computer-based organisation information system is intended to both lessen the costs and enhance the capabilities of organisations` information processing. Additionally, information systems maintain the operations and efficiently manage the key functions within a business. Online operations ease user device, channel of communication, interactive examination, planning, and executive techniques. Information systems necessitate study of a company, management perspectives and policies, organisation`s traditions and executive techniques. An open information system provides a capacity of continued changes and modifications or amendments in the system in line with environmental alterations in which it functions. An understanding of the efficient and liable utilisation of information systems and knowledge management is essential for administrators, company professionals and other information employees in today’s Internet work ventures.
Data are a helpful source that can turn into information. If the given information is correct and well timed, then it is likely to prompt action that improves the business's competitive situation and brings about prosperity. In effect, a business is subject to a statistical information decision-cycle; that is, information applied by a customer is generated and added to the database, as a result it becomes a source of knowledge expended in decision making by the management. A significant accomplishment factor of a company is proficient asset management. Decisive success factors involve administration within a company to recognise the position of the business in information technology. Based on the study of the company`s business atmosphere, the decisive success factors pertaining to the company are discovered. Critical success factors refer to the restricted number of areas in which results, if reasonable, will make certain flourishing competitive performance for the business. There are such areas where things must be set out right for the industry to prosper. Thus, the factors that are vital for fulfilling the goals are identified at this point.
The information assessment process is an important approach used by John Lewis in order to determine the information needs of each distinct customer group. Therefore, the company will be able to develop information products directed especially to each group and requirement. Understanding the role of every individual and group in the organisation and ways in which they interact will enable the company to plan the forms of information merchandises and services that will be of most use to them. An information system is a form of marketing approach. Therefore, John Lewis has to carry out an intense planning effort, which is needed to build up those products that will be of most use to the company`s market. It is also needed to target the products carefully, so that the customers will respond to them as well as being able to select marketing methods, which will convince the customers that the products are worth purchasing and using.
John Lewis also requires strategic information in order to curb competition. The company may face increased competition from information vendors who are entering what they once considered their domain: the end-user community within the organization. For this company, it is no longer guaranteed that the customers will use whatever products and services that are offered to them. Shifting budget priorities are causing the customers to rethink the products and services they purchase from the company. Therefore, strategic information system is important for John Lewis to avert external competitors.
In the past, John Lewis Partnership might have been able to give the customers whatever information they had on-hand. At present, the company should concentrate on providing them with information they need, thus making it easy for them to function as well as make profit. Moreover, it is crucial for the company to understand its customers and their reasons for requiring information. Every customer has his/her own information needs and, while the same information may be required by more than one consumer, it may be used in completely different ways by each. Not only does the company have to know what information is needed by each consumer, but why the information is needed. In addition, the company needs to know the purpose of required information. If the company understands how information is used, it will be capable to develop information goods and services that correspond to the clients` needs.
Critical Appraisal of Strategic Information Systems and E-Business Planning Activities within John Lewis
Information system plays a very important role in e-business operations, activity partnerships, and strategic achievements of the company. The information system, which is akin to any other system, obtains inputs of data and commands, and processes the data in accordance with these instructions and then generates outputs. With groundbreaking innovation in information technology and rapid development of information systems, companies have begun emphasizing the development of e-business strategies; and several companies have adopted strategic planning methods relevant to e-business. Several companies, including John Lewis, have introduced innovative IT strategies and e-business applications to improve competitiveness and transform their enterprises. As a result, the development and implementation of IT strategy has become a focus idea for information management in the business industry. IT strategies within John Lewis include plans of projects develop concerning information technology applications, which will help the organisation realize its goals. With continuous technological innovations, alignment between information systems strategy and corporate strategy has become more difficult than before, even though the process of planning remained the same as in the past. John Lewis has a well-planned information systems strategy; hence, it can improve its overall competitiveness in integrating corporate strategy and implementing information technology effectively.
The development of information system has enabled John Lewis to sell its products online. Therefore, the relationship between the company, its suppliers and consumers has been drastically changed by such services offered via Internet. The Internet is a means of bypassing some channels of distribution, such as cutting out intermediaries. This has its own benefits such as removing transport and sales costs, thus enabling cost savings, which can be transferred to the consumer in form of reduced prices of commodities. Information technology has also helped John Lewis improve its customer services by introducing the help desk on the company`s website, which has in turn helped reduce pressure on supplementary support services, such as phone helpline. Lastly, the e-business approach has helped John Lewis to reach a wider market and has improved its efficiency.
Critical Appraisal of John Lewis’ Knowledge Management and Customer Relationship Management Activities
The concepts of customer relationship management and knowledge management have recently gained wide attention in business and academia. Both approaches center on allocation of resources to support business operations with an intention of gaining competitive advantages. To build beneficial relationships with clients, it is essential to serve every customer in his/her favored way, for that reason the management of consumer knowledge should be implemented. Many knowledge management approaches, as presented by knowledge management models, regard managing knowledge as independent from the supporting business processes. Knowledge and its management are seen as inherently valuable.
Knowledge with reference to customers is for the most part captured by tender management, complaint management, service management and, if available, contract management. Promotion management and service management are mostly concerned with knowledge about user processes, since both processes individualise their services as based upon the user`s standards. In John Lewis, knowledge about customers is transparent, although its dissemination beyond the borders of the company must be controlled, since this knowledge can often be directly transformed into competitive advantages. The development of knowledge management is expensive, because knowledge explication takes time and draws attention, which is the main task in serving the customer. Interaction management offers opportunities to gain knowledge automatically about customers through the electronic media. The critical challenge when managing knowledge about the customer is the question of how much data about the customer an activity can transform into knowledge.
Analysis of customer relationship management aids in finding hidden and unknown information from the customer’s data. John Lewis has knowledge management techniques in place that help the company understand its customers in a better way and assists executives to interact closely with the customers. These activities include:
Pursuing Customers’ Feedback
John Lewis is one particular company that listens to its customer’s feedback, though the suggestions might not result to immediate changes. However, if similar views are forwarded severally, the company does respond quickly. For instance, Waitrose has had some changes made due to customers` views; such improvements were related to the delivery services as well as quick check. In John Lewis, customers` feedbacks caused the introduction of name badges in order to make customer service to be on a personal level. This was done in response to customers’ opinions; they stated that if they could remember the person who had assisted them, they considered necessary to come back for further assistance.
Putting Up Nearby Stores and Services
John Lewis has improved the format of the shops and services so that the company can guarantee that their clients have full access to the products. John Lewis integrates the standards of user-friendliness into design, erection and functions of the company`s stores and services, and seeks to fulfill the needs of every customer, whether they require help because of hearing, mobility or sight problems. In addition, if some of these customers want information in alternative layouts and languages. The customers can obtain John Lewis’ information leaflets in different formats, such as Braille, large print, and audio compact disk. Of particular importance are the services, which they provide to every customer such as purchase collection points and free delivery. These services are especially helpful for disabled customers; the use of internet sites to market their products and the call centers mean that an individual can obtain goods and services without having to go to the store. This way, the company will be able to retain and attract all sorts of customers owing to its accessibility.
The company even sought professional opinion in order to ensure it was in line with the needs of all of its customers, including those with disabilities. The accessibility consultants worked on more than two hundred access audits, taking into consideration areas like entrances and exits, washrooms, and access to the old buildings was improved. To assist disabled clientele, the company has reserved parking areas near to the store entrances where possible. They have also fitted accessible lifts, mobile preset hearing loops, and have made some modifications to lighting and signage. The company continually reviews their services and physical access levels so that they can guarantee that they meet the personal requirements of all customers. Waitrose stores also provide a wide range of services and facilities that facilitate shopping for elderly or disabled customers. Their services include packing support at checkouts, carry-to-car services, accompanied shopping, wheelchairs, specialised trolleys, home delivery services, and wide-access lifts. Most of their partners are particularly trained to attend to disabled customers and make it easy for them to shop.
High Customer Service Level Online
John Lewis has a website, which is remarkable and easy to use. However, more importantly, the company makes certain its consumers can get in touch with an actual person at the moment they would like to. It provides real phone numbers, identifications, and addresses of its customer service managers and heads of online marketing. Moreover, the company works hard to ensure that online purchasers do not feel cheated. The essential part of online services is to make sure that the customers are satisfied and John Lewis’ website is tailored to ensure all these requirements. The delivery options are perfectly tailored to fit the needs of the customers. In addition, the standards of expertise are high and are brought through onto the internet site. Therefore, the website has many multipurpose podcasts and suggestion guides. In essence, John Lewis offers commendable online services that when consumers do their shopping using the website they experience the presence of a real customer representative readily available to assist if required. Additionally, their brand values are transferred onto their website.
John Lewis offers a wide range of quality products, which are sold at fair prices and supported by exceptional customer services. This has enabled the store gain popularity among the people, hence giving it a competitive advantage. Never Knowingly Undersold has constituted this commitment to value since 1925 and it remains fundamental to the company. John Lewis’ quality standards are high. The wide array of commodities the company sells means that it can provide commodities to suit a wide range of budgets. Moreover, with a devoted team checking the prices of their competitors, the prices are among the most competitive on the high street. Their partners’ stake in their company success is mirrored in the objective advice and outstanding after-sales services they offer. The overall business strategy takes into consideration a very long-term business viewpoint, deals with the general strength of the whole business and develops those policies of the company that will direct the course of the business. These strategies are multinational having a comprehensive effect on the diverse aspects of the business and structuring the basis, creating strategies in other prospective areas of the company.