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The one thing missing from the John Lewis virtual Christmas store

Jan 7, 2021


Christmas 2020 is different. A global pandemic has caused retailers around the world to innovate how they create awesome consumer experiences. However, John Lewis, determined to bring the magic of Christmas shopping into our homes, found a solution. It created a virtual shopping experience of their flagship store in London.

John Lewis is the largest co-operative in the UK. Its flagship store on London's Oxford Street is one of the UK's most visited shops. And every year at Christmas, John Lewis pulls out all the stops.

Not only do fans around the world count down to the release of its famous Christmas TV advert, but they flock to John Lewis stores to dazzle at its remarkable, festive displays.

The one thing missing from the John Lewis virtual Christmas store - CP

But Christmas 2020 is going to be different. We all know it just won't be the same. However, a global pandemic can't phase John Lewis. Determined to bring the magic of Christmas shopping into our homes, it's created a virtual Christmas shop. 

John Lewis 2

The virtual tour is a lot like Google Street View but inside a shop. To navigate, you simply click on the floor wherever you want to go. Each individual product range has dots that, when clicked, give the shopper insights into the range and how it came to be. In each information bubble is a link to a grid style landing page with all the products from said range.

There's been no modifications or changes to the store. It's simply bringing the exact design, layout and in-store experience online. But while there's a lot to like about its current state, we think the potential for an experience like this is huge.

John Lewis 1

Imagine if it was shoppable.

Customers want to get inspired and buy in as few steps as possible. Instead of only offering extra information about the range, why not add shoppable dots to each individual product? Or at least to a few key products. If shoppers could add to basket within the virtual tour or get taken directly to a specific product page, the effort needed to buy would significantly decrease. 

Right now this is the buying journey:

  • Shopper clicks blue dot, information bubble appears
  • Shopper scrolls to the bottom of the bubble, clicks on the small and not very obvious "click here" CTA
  • Shopper scrolls through long grid of products
  • Shopper clicks on a product they like and is taken to that product page
  • Shopper can then add product to basket

Wouldn't this be so much better?

  • Shopper clicks blue dot, then more dots linking to each product appear
  • Shopper can click on any product they're interested in and an information with details, price and an "Add to basket" CTA appears
  • Shopper clicks add to basket and continues around the virtual shop, adding more products as they go

By adding more features within the tour itself, the experience would become so much more engaging and immersive. As I said earlier, the virtual shop is like Google Street View. But Google Street View is mostly used for directions. Or finding your own house. There's nothing inspiring about it. Yes, it's the product displays that should provide the inspiration, but if I have to go through so many steps to buy, I'm just going to turn away. 

But despite that, the John Lewis virtual shop is a first step in the right direction.

Ecommerce is significantly growing. So brands are having to get creative with their webshops. Merging the offline and online experience is definitely one way to create a unified omnichannel experience. And it adds something new. Brands are realizing they can't solely rely on the product grid anymore.

Shoppers these days want to get inspired. Especially if they're sitting at home not really doing much else except flicking between tabs. If you can catch their eye and draw them in, you'll keep them hooked.

Todays ecommerce stores are very good at tailoring to determined shoppers. The ones who know what they want. It's a get in, get out experience.

But what about those that want to get inspired? What about the ones that want to learn? The ones that want a spark of imagination? Why do we make it harder for them to buy?

If you want to stand out from your ecommerce competitors, you need to start creating shoppable experiences that inspire. You need to capture emotions, imagination and desire. But don't make it complicated. Keep the steps simple and think about your buyer's journey. If you can make a shopping experience that's simply irresistible, your shoppers will keep coming back for more.

Jo Molloy

Jo Molloy