John Lewis has achieved a significant online sales milestone a year early.

“ passed the significant milestone of £1 billion annual online sales on a rolling 52-week basis - a full year ahead of target,” the retailer said in its results for the half year ended 27 July 2013.

John Lewis revealed sales of £439.9 million via its website for the period, up 17.1% from last year. It also detailed the investment it had made in its web platform to support its e-commerce offering.

“In line with our ambition to stay at the forefront of e-commerce, we have made a significant investment in a new web platform which went live during the first half,” the retailer said.

“Over 40% of traffic now comes from mobile phones or tablets. In July, we relaunched our transactional mobile app and since then sales via the app have grown quickly and we are preparing for what we anticipate will be the UK’s first ‘mobile Christmas’.”

IT investment

Meanwhile, the company said that it had invested £13.6 million in maintaining and modernising its IT platforms and head office buildings in the first half of 2013. Some IT infrastructure was also covered by the £53.2 million that John Lewis has invested for its future strategy, which also covers investment in new shops and the distribution infrastructure.

Furthermore, John Lewis has expanded the scope of its business services division, Partnership Services, to include IT application development and support, resourcing and pensions administration, which it believes will benefit from the division’s process management and improvement expertise.

“We are committed as a partnership to developing our business for the long term, building the capabilities of our partners and being innovative in products and services for our customers,” said Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of John Lewis Partnerships.

“As part of this, we have made further encouraging progress in what I referred to in March as our ‘quiet revolution’ - the investment and restructuring in areas of our retail operations, supply chain, IT and support functions.

“That has included rolling out ‘My Performance’, a new online system that ensures every partner has an individual personal development plan.”

The My Performance system ensures that every employee has an annual appraisal linked to a personal development plan, so that they have “more control over their own development and progression,” Mayfield said.

John Lewis has also introduced technological initiatives in stores, for example, having concierge-style welcome desks where shoppers will be able to browse goods and services and click and collect their groceries or products from using iPads available at these desks.