Marks & Spencer has unveiled its new-look website as part of a wider multi-channel approach to retail.
The retailer has designed and built the new site around the customer, following two years of testing. Analytics and feedback from the previous site allowed M&S to pinpoint 40 key customer issues, and the retailer has improved the quality of search returns by 14%.
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“We've put customers at the heart of our rebuild so our new site really reflects how they want to browse and shop with us,” said Laura Wade-Gery, executive director for multi-channel e-commerce.
“Online acts as the shop window to all our stores, products and brands, so we've used bigger, bolder and better styled imagery, and we aim to inspire and help our customers with a clear style point of view and compelling editorial content that’s refreshed on a daily basis.
“We now have the capability to respond quickly and efficiently in a world where customers, technology and trends are constantly evolving.”
In November 2010, M&S announced plans to move away from its Amazon Web Services (AWS) e-commerce system to bring its online channel back in-house.
The much publicised decision to in-source was not only down to Amazon being an M&S competitor, but the fact AWS wanted to standardise its cloud offering and package it out to other retailers.
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By taking ownership of the site M&S now has greater flexibility to respond quickly to emerging trends.
After taking the project in-house, M&S has had to invest in developing the skills to build the website, which includes a software development team of 50, as well as the addition of a new software engineering-focused gradate scheme. The retailer has also introduced a specialist digital lab designed to apply a start-up mentality to innovation and testing.
The retailer has also launched a version of the website optimised for tablet devices, as well as updates to its existing mobile website and applications.
40,000 M&S employees are using the new M&S.com site, along with the company's 120 "browse and order" hubs and 1,500 iPad-assisted sellers.
Around 40% of M&S customers shop for outfits rather than single clothing items, so the new website will aim to display around half of its womenswear range as outfit recommendations. These will feature on the product page or as part of styled galleries that can be browsed by trend, occasion or personalised recommendation.
The implementation of a three-tier navigation allows customers to reach products they want in a single click, while the image-heavy site allows customers to recognise potential purchases quickly as images are up to 50% bigger. Images now also include a new maxi-zoom feature, as well as catwalk and 360 video.
The new site also features an "editorial hub" on style and living, which will offer daily content from fashion journalists, celebrities and guest editors. According to M&S, customers are 24% more likely to buy if they view editorial content first.
The new M&S.com website is part of the retailer’s wider multi-channel journey to transform its infrastructure. It also has a new dedicated e-commerce distribution centre at Castle Donington, which opened in May 2013, and it is building capacity ready for the peak trading season at Christmas 2014.