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In-store technology utilised to improve customer journey and expand range at Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer is trialling an array of in-store technologies as it aims to better link its stores base with its other sales channels and drive better engagement with its customers across its increasingly multi-channel business. By Glynn Davis


In-store technology utilised to improve customer journey and expand range at Marks & Spencer

Ahead of presenting at the Retail Bulletin In-store Engagement Conference 2012 in London on July 10 Claire Zuurbier, workstream lead for new channels at Marks & Spencer, reveals what the retailer is up to in-store with new technologies.

“We’ve been operating in a multi-channel environment in-store for a few years and started with the ‘Shop Your Way’ approach where you could go in-store to buy an item or [if out-of-stock] go to an order point and buy via an online catalogue. Last year we looked at how to make this easier and create some theatre,” she says.

The additional aim has been to utilise in-store technologies to enable customers to access a much broader range of products than could be fitted into many of the group’s smaller stores. The ‘Style Online’ initiative has been introduced as a pilot to “bring the best of M&S to your local store” and is focused on widening the fashion range and showcasing its sub-brands including Autograph and Limited.

Style Online is an “integrated store proposition” that comprises physical samples of 60-70% of the ranges that are not available in-store along with interactive touch screen devices that show footage of catwalk shows, enable customers to pull items together to create outfits, and lets them place orders for these goods.

The sales assistants working within the Style Online area are equipped with iPads that enable them to assist shoppers using the touch screen devices. There are currently three stores trialling the proposition and Zuurbier says M&S is applying its “test and learn philosophy” to the pilot phase as it works out what to roll into the next derivation of the concept.

What will certainly be kept is the M&S aim to make the service easy to use for all the retailers’ customers, which is why she says the touch screen devices are “future looking so do not like an ATM but they are still seen as accessible to our customer base”.

“We’ve kept the usability simple not just for the [older M&S] customer base but to be cognisant of the in-store environment where there are many distractions,” she suggests.

As well as iPads issued to sales assistants working in the Style Online area Zuurbier says they have also been given to some employees in the group’s 13 Premier stores where they are used to assist customers with their shopping journey’s.

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