John Lewis’s mobile strategy is to go after the connected home market ‘in a big way’, hinting
that an MVNO could help bring it all together, John Lewis buyer, Suddy Bhardwaj has told Mobile.
He said: ‘John Lewis is going after the connected home market and the industry has really moved in that direction. In order to be credible in that market, we need to sell the remote to control the devices to close up the connected story.
‘In terms of launching an MVNO, I wouldn’t leave anything off the table. It’s definitely one to watch as it brings the connected home together.’
John Lewis recently partnered with Vodafone to sell mobile phones in its department stores, with Bhardwaj describing this proposition as ‘the most market disruptive’. He claims the company will look to ‘aggressively target’ the SIM-free market, and that it is reacting to the ‘confusion’ that customers face, saying that ‘the phone culture has been too closed off for too long’.
He said: ‘The SIM-free market is the fastest in terms of growth so I expect that will be important for us, but our proposition is probably the most market disruptive in terms of contracts. The problem is that we’ve just never taken mobiles seriously before, so we don’t really know which one of those two will perform better.
‘The phone culture has been too closed off to customers for too long and we’re not limiting ourselves to be a niche player. We’re very excited about taking on the big retailers and operators. The collapse of Phones 4U and the pending mergers between BT/EE and O2/Three has left a bit of a gap in the market. We’ve noticed from our customers that consolidation has left them more confused than before. It has pushed them to start asking more questions about what it means for them.’
With the retailer planning to sell Apple and Samsung devices, Bhardwaj explained that John Lewis will look to target its high-end ‘traditional customers’. He claims that the retailer will offer a ‘curated selection of handsets’ and will look to offer a ‘consultative service’ to customers.
He said: ‘We don’t intend to go out there with £7.50 tarrifs because our customers aren’t interested in the lowest-value handsets. When you look at those tariffs, it feels like the customer is being cheated a little bit. They see the price, buy the handset and then realise they don’t have everything they need in their packages, with terrible data charges.
‘At the end of the day it’s the John Lewis brand, we’re not going to come out with the UK’s lowest-priced product. Customers don’t want the cheapest product at the cheapest price. We’ll be selling good-value handsets but they won’t be at ‘crash the market’ prices, we’ll make sure the customers get what’s right for them.’