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E-commerce shift signalled by Marks and Spencer

13 November 2017 - 11:29 by Graham Miller

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While it may have become a staple of the high street over more than a century, Marks & Spencer is now recognising that its future lies on the web as it announced store closures and a digital-first strategy last week, according to Internet Retailing.

The food, fashion and homeware giant said that it is aiming to sell a third of its products via safe shopping online as a result of its new direction, shrinking its bricks and mortar presence in the process to save money and adapt to consumer trends.

Its annual revenues are up by 2.6 per cent, with pre-tax profits almost quadrupling over the same period. It also enjoyed a 5.7 per cent uptick in sales made via safe shopping online in 2017 so far, although it has more to do if it wants to boost its e-commerce growth significantly.

Company spokesperson, Steve Rowe, explained that there were still obstacles to overcome as it transitions away from its high street roots. He said that he was seeking to catalyse the adoption of a digital-first attitude and thus grow sales and profits in unison.

For the past year and a half this plan has been in the offing, although M&S has actually been adding more staff to its stores to improve the real world shopping experience, even as closures and floorspace reductions have been enacted.

In terms of its online presence, the retailer wants to be able to fulfil orders faster and cater to the needs of savvy shoppers more effectively. This applies both to its clothing sales as well as to its grocery delivery service, the latter of which it believes is not quite up to scratch when compared with some of its rivals.

Online ambitions like this require perseverance and investment to realise, but M&S clearly appreciates what is at stake.