M&S learns from its mistakes

The head of e-commerce at Marks & Spencer has promised the retail giant will learn from its past mistakes in harnessing the...

The head of e-commerce at Marks & Spencer has promised the retail giant will learn from its past mistakes in harnessing the Internet for business.

Peter Robinson, head of e-commerce at M&S told Computer Weekly that the company acknowledged that there had been criticisms of M&S' limited online product range and the service provided, but he said that valuable lessons had already been learned.

Robinson said, "It's obviously important to get things right as soon as possible, but at this stage in the e-commerce market, the most important thing is to be in the game in the first place."

Robinson addressed a CeBIT conference hosted by M&S mainframe supplier Amdahl.

Robinson said he was sure the traditional bricks-and-mortar companies would eventually win in the e-commerce market, as they were now putting the right systems in place.

M&S is using two different systems from Amdahl to make sure its investment is protected. It has installed Enview, an e-commerce performance-monitoring tool, and has implemented e-CTS, which enables M&S to link its legacy mainframes to e-commerce servers.

Robinson said, "With five-and-half-million people in the UK holding M&S storecards, any e-commerce strategy has to be complementary and integrated into the business, and there are four key drivers for delivering the right service: availability, reliability, ease of use and speed."

Following criticisms that M&S had failed in all or some of these areas during the Xmas period, Robinson said M&S would make 3,000 products available online by the end of year.

The M&S e-commerce offering will also not be ring-fenced as a dedicated e-commerce offering. The clothing retailer is in the process of integrating the line into its main supply chain and logistics operation.

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