Walking JLAB Startups Through The Aisles

3rd September 2018

Walking JLAB Startups Through The Aisles

OME Health

Ahead of their next journey to build customer research, 21 August marked the day the John Lewis Partnership and two of our selected JLAB Health & Wellbeing businesses, Kafoodle and OME Health visited the nicely cool (thank goodness) Waitrose store in Bracknell.

We were meeting Hannah, Waitrose’s Customer Insight Manager, with the aim of understanding how exactly Waitrose customers shopped, how long they browsed for, how items were displayed and which were the most popular.

Waitrose is located on a new shopping complex, even though the store opened in 2011 – it also has a welcoming suntrap cafe attached on the side.
Hannah talked us through meeting customer needs and some of the challenges that can bring as well as their use of tools to make their shops more convenient and ensuring the ranges are right for each shop location.


Did you know? To pick the perfect watermelon, try tapping it. A ripe one will have a deep, hollow sound.

‘A Taste of Italy’ pop up, to inspire

Stepping into the vast store, displayed for customer convenience we came across a promotional fixture which showcased ‘A Taste of Italy’ with various pasta ingredients (from tomato pureé to jars of Béchamel), alongside a Jamie Oliver’s cookbook. Stores, nationwide, execute these fixtures every 4-6 weeks, to inspire consumers, perhaps not forwarded planning their trip.

Good health

Next stop – Good Health. With demands to notify customers of what is healthy for them, Waitrose implemented this fantastic scheme which enables the usually mundane food shop experience to become informative and accessible – promotions are found at the top and tail of the aisles, to entice customers to eat healthier foods, at a lower cost.

Did you know to pick the perfect watermelon, try tapping it. A ripe one will have a deep, hollow sound. This is one of the fantastic facts dotted around the store to demonstrate an educational and personable approach.

Vegan or vegetarian?

The demand for vegan and vegetarian products are growing and Waitrose has listened to the noise. With brands such as Quorn, Koko and Tide Ford, penetrating this market, Waitrose has made it a priority to showcase these products clearly on the shelves.

Previously, the consumer would read ingredient labels to understand content. Now, each vegan item is indicated by a round green label protruding from the shelves. Waitrose has both grouped vegan and vegetarian friendly items, such as picnic items, but has integrated other vegan products with non-vegan products such as butters to encourage shopping flow when browsing the shop floor.


One of the many deli counters in Waitrose stores

Waitrose’s Partners are at the forefront of many strategy discussions. Community driven, the friendly employee-customer relationship is emphasised at the Fresh Fish and Meat Deli’s scattered across various stores across the UK.

Ever wondered what meat to choose when cooking a roast dinner for six? Or what the best cut of beef would be to pan fry on date night? Partners in store are trained to answer these questions to make the shopping experience a personable and approachable one.

Only by going on a store tour such as this can the startups really get under the skin of the Waitrose customer, and understand what innovations in merchandising and products have been implemented recently and why they have worked. Ultimately this helps the JLAB startups to know how they can best enhance Waitrose’s operations and ultimately deliver a better experience for customers. In the next few months the JLAB companies will each showcase their product to separate focus groups and put what they have learnt about the Waitrose demographic to the test…