Marks & Spencer has unveiled a crucial turnaround strategy with the launch of its long-awaited £150m website.
Middle England’s favourite retailer broke away from technology supplier Amazon to go it alone with its own M&S-powered website.
Its technology boss Laura Wade-Gery has spent 18 months developing the site.
She said: ‘M&S.com is the shop window for all our stores. There will be a staggered roll-out as our new delivery centre reaches full pelt by the middle of the year.
‘The site will be our new flagship and we will be refreshing it every few months.’
But the site is still suffering some teething problems despite the big investment.
If customers choose to click-and-collect an item it is sent to a store from a central warehouse, regardless of whether it is already sitting on a shelf in that store.
The resulting wasted journey is because store stock systems have yet to be modernised and are not yet capable of monitoring stock levels in real time.
M&S anticipated the problem but is yet to fix it.
By the summer it will have refined its delivery to offer customers the chance to have items delivered to home or stores faster that it can at present.
The retailer has been struggling to grow its clothing ranges in recent years having run out of some stock previously, amid claims some of its womenswear lines had fallen out fashion.
Chief executive Marc Bolland brought in a design team and launched the ‘leading ladies’ advertising campaign featuring some of Britain’s most famous faces including Dame Helen Mirren.
However growth has been slow to take off and the retail chief is under pressure for his turnaround strategy to come together and deliver cost savings and revenue growth.
Retail analyst Nick Bubb said if M&S plays its cards right there is still plenty of opportunity left for its belated web offering.
‘The fastest growing demographic online is the M&S customer who is largely the older woman,’ he said. ‘But the problem is that there are plenty of other websites they can shop on.
‘They have been saddled with Amazon for donkeys’ years and are very late to the party. But they are still just about in time to make a difference.’
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