Following the adoption of a sharper focus on the web over the past 12 months, sales at Marks & Spencer's online operation M&S Direct increased by 31% during the year to 17 April, the retailer said in its annual results.
According to M&S, web traffic grew by 18% to more than three million visits per week during the period. The company has driven several enhancements to its website and made design changes to improve the customer experience and encourage more shoppers to complete their transactions, leading to an increase in conversion rates.
The company also launched a fully mobile-enabled website during its latest financial year. The site has had 5.5 million visitors to date, generating more than 59,000 orders, M&S said.
Marks & Spencer is placing its bets online and wants to at least double online, mobile and landline sales from £400m last year to between £800m and £1bn by 2014.
To that end, the company's new chief executive Marc Bolland has poached Tesco's former e-commerce director Laura Wade-Gery to take up the newly created position of executive director of multi-channel e-commerce at M&S.
Transforming back-end systems
In terms of back-end systems, M&S has also made progress. The firm completed the roll-out of a new stock management system to provide more accurate real-time stock level information, and is now in the process of rolling out a new point-of-sale (POS) system across its 400 stores, in a project that should be completed before Christmas.
The retailer is also concluding the second phase of the implementation of core systems based on SAP. The final phase, which will include a new stock ledger, is due to commence in the new financial year.
The company has also started the roll-out of new forecasting and space-planning and ranging systems in its food department, which will deliver improved availability and waste management.