Simple Digital Style John Lewis’ digital queue manager

Being digital doesn’t need to be complex. I saw a great example of digital simplicity on a recent visit to John Lewis’ flagship Oxford Street Store.  Here is the full experience documented in this post.  Is this great customer service or a missed opportunity to excite?

John Lewis Shoe DepartmentAs a parent,  going shopping for kid’s shoes usually involves a great deal of waiting around, a fair bit of chasing and a massive amount of checking that the shoes actually are going to be perfect.  Basically its a long slog.

John Lewis has helped alleviate some of the waiting problems caused by this by introducing a digital queue manager into its children’s shoe department. Parents can now at least stay in the vicinity of the shoes area while they wait to be served.

What does the digital Queue manager do?

It’s a digital version of the old ticket dispensers which used to give each customer a number showing their position in the queue.

  1. Customers are presented with a touch screen that says “Press for a ticket”ticket
  2. When touching the screen, a digital printer will print out a ticket with their allocated position in the queue.
  3. On the wall at the back of the shoe department is a large yellow LCD screen with the number of the customer that is currently being served.
  4. When a staff member has finished serving a customer, they will increase the number on the screen using an admin console behind the service desk.
  5. When a customer’s number comes up, then they hand the ticket to the staff member.


Simply great?

For me this solution stands out because if its simplicity.  A lot of digital solutions try to create new conventions to interact with businesses. By using the standard convention of taking a ticket and waiting for your turn it immediately adapts to customer’s expectations of behaviour. By offering a simple interface and a physical ticket then its readily understood by customers.

They compound the experience by using really clear modern signage that is “on brand” to direct the customers to the ticketing screen.  John Lewis digital queue manager

It works because its digital

Digital ScreenJohn Lewis is a premium digital brand, and by using a digital ticketing solution, it stamps its leading pedigree on the customer experience.  In fact I would go so far as to say that this is the first solution that I have seen since starting the blog where the only reason that the solution works so well is that it is digital. Had the John Lewis team opted for an “old school” ticketing machine then the store would have felt far more like a local bakery than a high-class modern department store.

An unused opportunity to delight customers?

During the early parts of my career I worked for the Disney corporation.  Disney excels in delighting customers by creating instore theatre and putting a lot of attention into the details of the experience to drive it home.

For me, this ticketing system could be seen as a massive opportunity to add to the brand and delight customers.

  • Since you are in the kid’s shoe department, why not put some fun images on the screen to entertain the children and bring some fun into the shopping experience for the kids?
  • Instead of just using a very plain Arial-like font, why not go all out and do a child related font with some fun in it. (maybe something like Comic Neue)
  • While you are changing the font, maybe make better use of larger text to better use the large flat screen kiosk that is in front of the customer.
  • Finally don’t forget about the ticket.  As its from a digital printer, you can print animals, shapes or even just a nice fun entertaining fact to give the customers that extra bit of delight when using this queue manager machine.


Overall this is a wonderful use of technology from one of the UK’s leading retailers.  The product is far from perfect but John Lewis can still push the boat out more and make these kiosks more engaging and entertaining.