New Loyalty Scheme – Ice

When I shop I like to feel like I’m getting a little more for my money, which is why I’m a big fan of loyalty schemes. Gathering points as I do my shopping which can then be used to buy myself a little treat!

When I was contacted about a new loyalty scheme called Ice, I was keen to give it a go.

Ice is a unique loyalty scheme which rewards shoppers for buying from companies carefully selected for their environmental credentials. The www.myice.com website offers a broad range everyday food and travel essentials to luxury gifts and treats from partners including , Eurostar, SSE and Stagecoach plus over 400 local food heroes. Customers are rewarded with free ‘Ice points’ which can we redeemed against future purchases. As well as being environmentally-friendly, Ice is also one of the UK’s most generous loyalty schemes (giving customers up to 11p of Ice points for every £1 they spend).

I’ve had a look around the site and it looks really interesting. There are a mix of big retailers including John Lewis and Marks and Spencer, and smaller local shops including a couple of farm shops close to my home. I’ve tested it out with John Lewis where it works as you might expect. Points are exchanged for voucher codes which can be spent on the John Lewis website. I treated myself to some gorgeous Cath Kidston fabric buttons :) The only thing I discovered while doing this was that you can only exchange point for certain values (£5 or £10) and you can’t exchange for more than one voucher at a time so I couldn’t put 2 together to get £20 off.

I’ll be sure to check Ice whenever I shop online to see if I can earn or spend Ice points!

Disclosure: I was provided with £20 of Ice Points to review the website. All opinions are my own.

Christmas Masterclass with John Lewis

Now that we have a John Lewis in Exeter, I’ve been lusting after many of their gorgeous Christmas decorations. I was very lucky to be invited into the store for a private masterclass on Decorating the Christmas Tree, and Preparing the Festive Table. Tamsin and Jo from the Visual Merchandising team were on hand to give the the lowdown on how to have a perfect display this Christmas.

First we dressed a Christmas Tree in their ‘Lapland‘ Childrens theme. This range is gorgeous and fun for the children, with its oversize baubles, felt animals and bright colours. We talked about how to approach the tree to make sure you get an spread of colour (put all the same type of decoration on at once, so you can see that they are spread out and you don’t have 2 decorations the same too close). We also talked about the benefit of artificial trees as you can manipulate the branches to fill in gaps and hold ornaments in place. We also talked about putting the lights on the tree, but this is a job I hate so luckily my tree at home is pre-lit!

I fell in love with some of the decorations and couldn’t leave the shop with out buying these wool ball decorations and these gorgeous boiled wool baubles too! These are perfect for adding to the bottom of the tree where pesky toddlers like to play with the decorations as they are perfectly safe and can’t break!

The tips on picking a theme or colour for your decorations were good, and although our tree at home remains a mishmash of things we have collected over the years, I was a little bit more careful in my selection of what went on the tree this year.

Then we moved onto the table. I was really interested in this, as this year we are hosting our very first Christmas at home, and I wanted it to be special! The theme I was shown was a beautiful, quite formal Winter Wonderland inspired theme. It was absolutely beautiful and although my table won’t look similar, I was inspired to take a theme and run with it. So my table will have a green and red Holly and Ivy theme. I’ll also be giving thought to how the table is laid out and adding little favour boxes to each place setting, again inspired by what Tamsin and Jo showed me!

My favourite touch was a wreath which had been laid flat on the table with a candle in the middle, which made a gorgeous centrepiece. Always be open to using things in a different way, just because its sold as a wreath doesn’t mean it has to be hung up!

I’ll be back to show you what my Christmas Tree and Table end up looking like :) Thanks very much to John Lewis Exeter for taking the time to show me these great hints and tips.

 

John Lewis Comes To Exeter

There has been a big build up in Exeter for some time now about the arrival of John Lewis in the city. And since the opening of the Pop Up shop last month, the excitement has been incredible!

Well its nearly here! Tomorrow is the big day when the first John Lewis in the South-West will open. I was lucky enough to be invited along with Rachel for a sneaky look around before opening. The store is striking from the outside, and the John Lewis branding is visible across the city centre. You certainly won’t be able to miss the store!

When we visited, the store was full of busy John Lewis Partners working away to get the store ready. Some parts looked ready for customers, others were a little further away but we were assured everything will be perfect for Friday morning!

This is a different type of store for John Lewis, its much smaller than their standard Department Stores and is a trial for them. If it is a success, being able to house a John Lewis in a smaller store would allow them to open up a huge wish list of cities that they could open in.

To keep a full range in a smaller store needed some creative thinking, and 75% of the fixtures and fittings in the Exeter store are new styles for John Lewis. New design ideas are being trialled here including open industrial ceilings and wallpaper accents on the walls. All in all this give a very different feel to this John Lewis.

As their are less products stocked in this smaller store, there is a big emphasis on Click and Collect. If you order online by 7pm you can collect from 2pm the following day. Around the store are a number of browse points where you can see and buy from the full range of John Lewis products.  I was pleased to see a lot of homeware including some furniture, and a fabulous children’s department. There is a nursery section too complete with trained advisors to help you pick the right products.

The clothing floors seemed almost ready, with a great assortment of brands most of which are not available elsewhere in Exeter. Both menswear and ladieswear looked great. I was really pleased to see that there was a spacious feel to the store, and plenty of room for buggies and wheelchairs around all the products.

The top floor houses the restaurant, which will serve a range of hot and cold food, drinks and snacks. Also up here are the toilets including Baby Change, Parent and Toddler toilet and a Parents Room for anyone wanting some privacy to feed. The weather was terrible on the day we visited, but on a clear day, the view of the cathedral and the city would be  stunning! I think we may be regular visitors to the top floor!

John Lewis Exeter opens on Friday 12th October 2012. Opening hours are 9amn-7pm (9pm on Thursday) and 10.30am -5pm on Sundays. If you are thinking of visiting on or near opening day, think about taking the Park and Ride. There are expected to be a lot of excited shoppers descending on Exeter!

John Lewis Pop Up Shop Exeter

Ever since the announcement a couple of years ago that John Lewis would be opening a new store in Exeter, the excitement here has been growing. Before now, our closest John Lewis has been in Cribbs Causeway off the M5 near Bristol which is a good 90 minutes away. Bearing in mind that Bristol was the closest to the South West that John Lewis came, it was hardly surprising that they decided to open in Devon, opening themselves up to both Devon and Cornwall shoppers!

To build on that excitement even more, John Lewis decided to offer Exeter a preview of their new store, in the form of a Pop Up Shop on the main High Street. I was invited along on opening day to meet the team behind the shop and find out what it was all about (this is where I apologise for the terrible photos in this post. My camera hasn’t surfaced after the move and so these pictures come from an elderly iPhone – #badblogger!)

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The Pop Up Shop is a new format for John Lewis and is designed to bring a taster of the range to shoppers, before the main store opens in October. The designers were given a fairly open brief for the design of the shop. The theme they went for was building a shop, so tables are built like work benches, ladders hang from the ceiling and the whole place has a trendy vibe.

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The shop doesn’t attempt to offer a typical John Lewis experience. Only a small percentage of their lines are represented (although the store is acting as a click and collect hub, meaning that you can order online up to 9pm for collection in store the following afternoon). The photo above is the haberdashery department! Lots of fun and interesting items which make a really inviting display. In fact one of those cute button boxes made its way home with me to use as a trinket box on my dressing table (John Lewis Button Box Oyster £10).

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The store is quite small, just one unit so clever uses have been devised for all spaces. Above was one of my favourite wall displays using spirit levels and bricks to display perfumes.
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And when your legs need a rest from all the shopping you’ve been doing you can head upstairs to the chill-out zone for a rest.

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I loved the range of childrenswear on display here. The dresses in particular caught my eye. I can’t wait for the main store to open so I can see the whole range!

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My second purchase came from the ‘House’ by John Lewis range and was one of these cute 1L bottles in Teal £5. It looks lovely on my windowsill in the kitchen, and will be cute filled with water on the table when we have visitors!

Now I really can’t wait for John Lewis Exeter to open next month!

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