How the John Lewis Partnership is transforming customer experiences with Google Cloud

The John Lewis Partnership, comprising of the John Lewis & Partners department stores and Waitrose & Partners shops, is an innovative company on many levels. When the first John Lewis & Partners department store opened on Oxford Street, London, in 1864, few could have imagined the business would have grown so much in the last 150 years. What’s driven its longstanding success are quality products, a focus on exceptional customer service, and a forward-looking company culture. 

Indeed, challenging the status quo is part of the fabric of the company. For many years a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer, John Lewis & Partners is now a cutting-edge digital innovator, with revenue steadily increasing from its digital channels. This has meant bringing the choice, quality, and responsiveness from its physical stories to the online world in unique ways.

To achieve this, the company works with Google Cloud. John Lewis Partnership first engaged with Google in 2014 to improve the way Partners worked together, on and off the shop floor, with productivity solutions from G Suite. More recently, the company created a centralized data platform with Google Cloud to break down data silos across the organisation, providing the foundation for a more omnichannel approach to customer insights and service.

Today, the John Lewis Partnership is taking this even further, with new initiatives to help deliver great experiences for customers, whether on an app, website, or browsing in-store:  

  • E-commerce transformation—John Lewis & Partners’ growing digital revenue streams  are underpinned by a popular website and a suite of mobile applications. However, as with any online business, staying relevant is key, and being able to run regular tests for content, layout, and user experience is a must. Working with Google Cloud, John Lewis & Partners is now building a better web experience for customers, including simpler internal processes to make changes, which is already paying dividends.

  • Partnership Data Platform (PDP)—To grow a business that thrives for many years to come, John Lewis & Partners is building a data management platform on Google Cloud to automate decision-making and facilitate access to data across a much broader range of products. The platform serves as the basis for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning (ML) projects, allowing for more accurate customer insight and segmentation, and enabling smarter service and better experience. This is a long-term project, serving as the cornerstone of John Lewis & Partners digital transformation strategy.

Andrew MacInnes, CTO of the John Lewis Partnership says: “Innovation is in our DNA. Our enduring strength is built on our uncompromising focus on the customer, for which we need a dynamic way of meeting changing expectations. We believe that the benefits of AI and ML have the ability to transform our business. Building this capability from the ground up would have been impossible for us, and this is why we needed Google Cloud as a partner. Google is helping us to continue innovating around the customer experience, enabled by the cloud.”

The opportunities opened up by innovations in AI and ML also raised questions for John Lewis & Partners about how to align modern data science techniques with its people-centric culture. It was essential for new data initiatives to be implemented in an ethical and congruent way. “We describe this new approach as ‘human digital’; it’s not about replacing the personal qualities our customers like, but reinforcing them with intelligent use of data,” Andrew added.

The company has large scale ambitions for its data platform. It wants to migrate more applications and data to Google cloud, and to increase the scope of AI-powered tools. 

“Fundamentally, we’re trying to put data at the heart of everything we do, supporting our business’ ability to operate over the next decade as the retail landscape shifts,” says Andrew. “Having Google Cloud on this journey with us means we’re able to move quickly while taking less risks and staying true to our company culture.” We look forward to supporting them in that journey.