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John Lewis to launch its first ever technology incubator: JLAB

As part of its 150 year celebrations, John Lewis is to launch its first ever technology incubator ‘JLAB’ later this year in a new partnership with technology entrepreneur Stuart Marks*. The purpose of JLAB is to identify and develop technology innovations that will provide the retailer with future strategic advantage with customers’ needs at the core of each idea.

Activity to mark the retailer’s 150th anniversary kicks off in May with the incubation period running from June until September. Both John Lewis and Stuart Marks will work together to select five start-up companies who will be based within JLAB during that time. While at JLAB, businesses will rapidly develop their products and solutions supported by a team of John Lewis leaders and external mentors.

Andy Street, Managing Director of John Lewis, said: “The Partnership’s founder, John Spedan Lewis, was a radical entrepreneur and so adopting a novel approach to business and retail innovation is not new to us, it’s a fundamental part of our DNA.”

“Our 150 year anniversary not only gives us the chance to reflect on our history, but to look forward at how we shape the next 150 years. We have been ahead of the game in omnichannel retailing and through our JLAB incubator we will nurture the next generation of technology start-ups while helping ensure we remain on the cutting-edge of retail change.”

Paul Coby, IT Director at John Lewis, said: “As a big business we have a certain way of doing things and this is a chance to inject some of the spirit of a “start-up”. As this is an in-house project the companies will have regular input and help from the mentor team to ensure all ideas are aligned with our brand values, whilst fulfilling the strategic innovation brief.”

At the end of the incubation period, JLAB will announce the overall winner. John Lewis will invest £50k into the winning company, which will also be matched by Stuart Marks. They will get the chance to trial their solution and should this be a success, their solution will be implemented across the John Lewis estate.

Andrew Murphy, Retail Director at John Lewis and executive sponsor for the initative said: “The innovation focus we are looking for needs to help provide our customers with the most coherent, cross-channel shopping experience possible. We know customers really value being able to shop with John Lewis by phone, in shops and online and anything which enhances or simplifies that experience is of interest to us.”

“What I’m looking for from the successful JLAB applicants is deliverable but stretching innovation which offers real benefit for customers in both our bricks and clicks businesses.”

Stuart Marks, technology entrepreneur, said: “I’m delighted to be working with John Lewis on JLAB. We have crafted something unique in the UK retail sector that will give businesses access to the best mentors and to an environment where they can develop their ideas. I’m certain that we will find new and exciting technology that will strengthen John Lewis’s leadership in omnichannel retailing.”

These main areas will form the innovation framework:

· Helping customers shop: in-store innovation, omni customer experience (eg self service product info, prices) and technology driven customer inspiration.

· Simplifying customers’ lives: innovation around the “internet of things” (how all devices will communicate together enabling a more connected home).

· Knowing each other: using data to drive real-time, in-store personalisation for customers.

Surprise us: Any innovative product or solution that delights customers’ by enhancing their shopping experience.

If you want the opportunity to be a part of JLAB, then apply on The application process starts 3rd March 2014 and closes 17th April 2014.

Source : John Lewis Press Release

02 March 2014
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Thank you for the excellent presentation that you gave at Woodbury Park on Thursday morning. It was very interesting and thought-provoking for our Retail members. The feedback has been excellent.

Martin Elliott. Chief Executive - Home Hardware.

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