Today (November 19) John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners have opened a breakthrough new experimental format store offering ‘experience playgrounds’ for consumers – which touches on greeting cards. The concept, unveiled at its Southampton store, sees ‘experience playgrounds’ being given centre stage on every floor of the store offering services and experiences led by expert Partners.
Customers can start their day at the rooftop farm shop, pause for a 15-minute fashion fix in the style studio and learn to bake bread in the first ever Waitrose & Partners Cookery School to open in a John Lewis & Partners shop.
A moodboard for a home refurbishment can be compiled in The World of Design, while they can attend a workshop on gardening and experiment with make up or gadgets in one of the ‘stay and play’ areas.
Bringing the activity close to the card and stationery sector, there will be a number of pop-up workshops which include how to learn or improve your skills in modern calligraphy as well as photography courses, wreath–making and even how to hone your barista techniques!
“Our goal is to offer customers unrivalled access to expertise and impartial advice in as many areas of their lives as we possibly can – in a way that is uplifting and inspiring,” explained Peter Cross, customer experience director of John Lewis & Partners.
While the idea is that if the full on ‘experience playgrounds’ being trialled in Southampton are successful, they could be rolled out across the country. However, John Lewis has already upped the consumer engagement activity across its department stores, with initiatives which look set to increase traffic and interest in the card and stationery departments.
These include a series of Christmas giftwrapping workshops which will give top tips and ideas for wrapping your Christmas gifts.
Meanwhile, encouraging children to write, John Lewis and Partners is offering a Post a letter to Father Christmas service with special post boxes in its Brent Cross, Stratford, Peterborough, High Wycombe and Sheffield stores installed until 12 December (promising a reply from the big man himself).
There are also tree decorating workshops and even a Jo Malone Christmas cracker making event (complete with bubbly) at the High Wycombe store on November 26.
This news comes at a time when the popularity of the first joint Christmas advertisement from John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners is soaring. The advert also reinforces how the two retailers are joining forces for future initiatives. The ad celebrates the act of coming together to enjoy good food. It is also about finding a thoughtful gift for a special friend. Set in a Medieval-style village (far away from consumerism) a small gift finds the perfect present (and experience) for Edgar, an excitable fire-breathing dragon.
Top: John Lewis & Partners’ and Waitrose & Partners’ Southampton concept store will offer expert advice from chefs, gadget specialists, home design stylists, gardeners, wine experts, make-up artists and personal stylists.