John Lewis using new software to track customers in store

John Lewis is testing a new software which tracks customers as they enter the shop, with the aim of reducing pickup queues and making shopping a faster and less stressful experience.

This will be especially visible during peak shopping times like Black Friday or Christmas.

The system has been developed by micro-location specialist Localz and uses smartphones to identify customers’ exact location.

The project uses Bluetooth emitters called beacons, and places them around the exterior of the store.

These are activated when customers with the new app in their smartphone are 70 metres away. The shopper is asked when he or she wants to collect the parcel and back office staff are simultaneously alerted.

Localz received £100,000 in funding to develop the new system, in 2014 - the first year of the so-called JLab accelerator. This year JLab is offering funding and office space for ten start-up businesses.

According to The Guardian, John Lewis invests a lot in this type of technology: “John Lewis is investing heavily in omni-channel shopping, where online shopping as a percentage of total trade has more than tripled over the last eight years (from 10 per cent to 33 per cent).”

Paula Nickolds, director of buying and brand at John Lewis, said: “We have been focusing more and more on systems development and JLab is an opportunity to inject the startup spirit into our innovation efforts. We are very excited by what Localz has come up with, which lets you know when the customer is near or in the building.”