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M&S transformation continues with big online push

1st May 2014 Print

Marks & Spencer has moved forward with its International, Multi-channel transformation plan with a briefing on its recently launched .com business. It also launched a brand new customer campaign aimed at promoting its online selling channels to new and existing customers.

In a presentation held at its central London Multi-channel hub, Marc Bolland, Laura Wade-Gery and the senior M&S team talked through the business and cultural changes that are underway as part of M&S’s  transformation journey and gave details of the new customer recruitment campaign: ‘Discover the new’.

Core to the plan is the new website, M&, that launched in mid February as part of M&S’s drive to create an agile, flexible trading platform that caters for current consumer shopping needs and is fit for the future.

Laura Wade-Gery, M&S Executive Director of Multi-channel, E-Commerce, said: “Multi-channel shopping represents the future of retail and lies at the heart of our transformation plan. That’s why we have invested in building our new web platform to be in tune with our customers’ needs and fully integrated with the rest of our business. We are now well set up to adapt and change quickly and cost efficiently for future requirements.

“In line with this is our new focus on blending content and commerce to inspire customers and drive sales. Customers are 24% more likely to buy if they have had access to editorial content. The campaign that we have launched today aims to drive customers to experience the content rich website that we have created especially for them.”

The ‘Discover…’ campaign is designed to convert some of the 19m M&S customers who currently shop in store but not online with the retailer as well as attract entirely new customers to M&S.  Launching across M&S’s owned channels and in over 400 M&S stores nation-wide today, the campaign invites customers to visit the new M&S’s new online flagship and experience for themselves how much it has to offer.

A key focus will be the new website's dedicated editorial hub – Style & Living – which offers daily updated content from an editorial team comprising journalists from top titles – as well as celebrity and guest editors. This feature helps strengthen M&S’ style credentials, offering a clear point fashion point of view.  The fashion, food and lifestyle features will be shared daily with its social media fans.

It is the first time that M&S has so extensively promoted its website in its stores where the windows will be given over to messages that highlight the new editorial focus of the website.

In order to introduce Style & Living online to customers, M&S has created a flagship brochure which will be available in store and via selected external media. This will be supported with campaign messaging across all of M&S’s online channels as well as direct mail and social media engagement with M&S two and half million online fans. 


The new site has been built around the customer – with over two years of extensive testing with hundreds of existing and potential customers. The retailer also analysed customer feedback and analytics from its existing site to pinpoint 40 key customer insights to address – ranging from functional updates such improvements to the quality of search returns to fulfilling a bigger demand for more editorial fashion and lifestyle guidance.

With an increasing number of customers using online as a source of inspiration and research before they shop in stores or online, M&S has focused on delivering a better browsing experience, as well as an improved buying process.

To achieve this, the site includes a number of new features. Product images are up to 50% bigger and available as either cut outs or on a model shots. Images also include a new maxi zoom feature, as well as catwalk and 360o video so customers can see more of the product detail and better understand how it moves and fits.

With around 40% of customers shopping for outfits, not just single items, M&S aims to display around half of its womenswear range as outfits. These recommendations are featured on the product page or as part of styled galleries, with the option to browse outfits by trend, occasion or as a personalised recommendation.

It has also been made quicker and easier for customers to find exactly what they want. The new three tier navigation means customers can reach products in just one click and images have been included so customers can more quickly recognise ’what’s for me’.

By taking ownership of the site M&S has greater flexibility to respond quickly to emerging trends – and will continue to evolve the site with regular new releases and updates. M&S has invested in developing the in-house skills and capabilities to continue to innovate. This includes a 50 strong software development team and the addition of a new software engineering focused graduate scheme, as well as a specialist digital lab function designed to apply a more start up mentality to innovation and testing.

With more customers shopping across different channels – store employees have also been involved in the new site development. Over 40,000 employees are already using the new M& platform through 120 in store browse & order hubs and 1500 iPad assisted sellers are on hand to showcase the new site format.