November 10th, 2020. Commercetools, a member of our ecommerce platform shortlist, has announced that its technology has been selected by John Lewis to provide the basis for a future evolution of its johnlewis.com direct-to-consumer website which is currently running on bespoke, in-house software.
John Lewis is a major upper mid market British department store, well known in the UK as a provider of quality homewares and fashion to well-to-do British households since 1864. Founded by John Spedan Lewis as a draper's store on London's premier shopping street, Oxford Street, it has since grown to a network of 42 full scale department stores, plus an associated 335 supermarkets branded as Waitrose. John Lewis was an early leader in ecommerce, opening online in 2001, and its online sales in period mid-March to mid-April 2020 were up 84% YoY and now represent roughly 40% of sales.
Mike Sackman, CIO at John Lewis Partnership and former IT Director at Waitrose, is quoted as saying "John Lewis is supercharging its investment in online to adapt to changes in consumer behaviour". Dirk Hoerig, CEO at commercetools, is quoted as saying "for John Lewis, scalability and flexibility was very much the brief".
Why is this important?
It is easy to assume that news of a British retailer with a long heritage is not very important or relevant to the US ecommerce market. However, John Lewis is a significant retailer with a big budget and a significant presence in a major economy and it is placing a bet on a relatively new, relatively unproven ecommerce platform. Major ecommerce platforms today, such as SAP CX Commerce (hybris as was before their $bn acquisition by mega-vendor SAP), also started their journey with wins with big retailers who were looking for the next generation of capability and technology. Today's announcement may be an important milestone in commercetools' journey and a signpost to future success.
Since writing this article, on December 21st, 2020, John Lewis announced in its annual "Shop, Live, Look" report that its online sales during pandemic rose to between 60% and 70% compared to 40% before.