Marks & Spencer targets UK’s top-slot in multi-channel retailing

Marks & Spencer wants to become the UK's leading multi-channel retailer, with an aggressive plan to grow sales to £1bn by 2013/14.

Marks & Spencer wants to become the UK's leading multi-channel retailer, with an aggressive plan to grow sales to £1bn by 2013/14.

It plans to develop a new website platform, ending its current contract with Amazon in 2013. The platform, the company said, will "enable us to provide a customised multi-channel experience that links all our channels".

Chief executive Marc Bolland said developing multi-channel is a priority for the business - with an investment of £150m - as he set out the company's strategy for the coming years.

With its half year results showing an increase in group sales of 5.4% to £4.6bn, Bolland said it will be important to provide new ways for customers to shop.

"Over three years we will build our multi-channel and international capability. This will develop M&S into an international multi-channel retailer, making the M&S brand more accessible to more customers around the world."

Its current offering M&S Direct performed well in the first half, with sales up 49%. The website had 1.2 million unique users during the period, generating 13,000 orders. But it said it wants to develop this further.

The retailer will install touch-screen, web-based ordering points in stores, and will start selling online internationally in one market in 2011.

It does not intend to offer its full food range online at the moment, but does plan to expand the online wine, flower and 'food to order' business from £80m today to £150m by 2013/14. M&S is also targeting the international market, with plans for more tailored websites for specific local markets set for 2013.

IT savings

The retailer has increased its target cost savings from its Project 2020, which will transform its IT and logistics.

It originally planned to save £250m with the project, but has now increased that to £300m. Of this, £125m will be saved via improvements in IT. It said the savings have not involved any capital investment.

Project 2020 will see a restructured supply chain, new information systems and improved operational execution.

The company said it has made good progress with the upgrade of its systems, having completed the implementation of a stock management system which provides real-time information on stock levels. It is also rolling out a new point of sale system. The system is currently in 40 stores and is due to be completed in 2011.

The roll-out of the SAP core business system is nearly finished, with the final phase starting in the new year. The company has also started a trial of new forecasting and space planning and ranging systems in its food department. It hopes these will improve availability of stock, reduce waste, and plans to roll them out next year.

Read more on E-commerce technology