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Marks & Spencer outlines e-commerce ambitions

06 May 2014 - 10:29 by Graham Miller

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Last week Marks & Spencer kicked off a new marketing campaign, which it is hoping will convince consumers to use its website to buy their groceries online. Ultimately, it believes it can win over 19 million people in the UK with its e-commerce offerings, which is an ambitious goal but one which will also give it the upper hand in a very competitive marketplace.

It points to figures that show there is more value to courting consumers who shop in-store and online than those who stick to one or the other. Omnichannel buyers spend an average of £55 more each and every year than anyone else, so winning their favour could make a big difference to sales.

Company chief exec, Mark Bolland, has even said this month that Marks & Spencer's flagship retail experience is now very much its e-commerce site, rather than any of its major bricks and mortar outlets.

Over the course of May, it will be rolling out a number of promotional schemes to help get more of its customers using safe shopping online, with things like interactive in-store displays helping to demonstrate the benefits associated with buying on the web.

This all comes following the February re-launch of the M&S e-commerce site, at which point the retailer decoupled itself from the previous system, which was run by competing online firm, Amazon.

M&S has not just been investing in the front end experience, but also the infrastructure which allows it to live up to customer expectations. This includes opening a major distribution facility in Leicestershire, which should help it to fulfil orders quickly and get them out to customers, whether they are collecting in-store or having them delivered to their homes.

Winning the approval of 19 million consumers will not be easy, but M&S has a vested interest in expanding its online operation.