Tag Archives: M&S

Focus on Streamlining the In-Store Experience for Customers to Return

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Marks & Spencer (M&S) once again is in the news and is poised to close 60 poor-performing stores and increase its food presence due to falling fashion revenues and profit. Let’s not forget, this retailer has never placed itself as a high-fashion retailer, but one with a broad appeal for which it must cater. David Gandy, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, and the latest conscript Alexa Chung, who is yet to be measured for success, are fine brand ambassadors which have attracted new customers to the store — at least once. Therein lies the issue: let’s be honest here, ambassadors are not the problem and in most cases, depending on your taste, the fashion isn’t that bad or of poor quality either — it’s the experience.

Walk into an M&S and you’re greeted with a confused retail environment akin to a Poundland. There is harsh, bright lighting that bounces off the laminate flooring and awful graphics are festooned across the store. Images of middle-aged men in casual slacks will not make me go deeper into the M&S environment if that’s what I’m greeted with immediately on entry.

The fashion is laid out in a manner that speaks to no one in particular, big and small sizes, man-made and natural fibres, knits, pleats, and high neck lines share rails with garments for a totally different and diverse customer. There is no differentiation between ages and sizing in its merchandising, making it harder for shoppers to buy on impulse and instead expecting you to ‘browse’.

As a nation of shoppers we like to browse, but only for certain items. Or on the rare occasion, we see an item in the window and nip it to buy it there and then. At this point we may be enticed by the environment to stay a bit longer, browse, and become a true customer encouraged to visit again. Unfortunately, M&S has little linger appeal due to its stark and clumsy environment and merchandising, which doesn’t even reflect the 2016 Christmas campaign with Mrs. Clause. The message of a Christmas filled with love is immediately diminished on entering into store.

The solution? Bring them in with great food and great ambassadors to entice them deeper into a store with defined zones and a warmer, friendlier environment that makes customers feel comfortable rather than awkward. Differentiate soft mixed with hard zones, and group fashion by age, audience, and size so you know where you are in the store. Stop arranging shoes on shelves like tins of baked beans, and merchandising must-have fashion items next to shortbread and lavender draw liners.

The traditional M&S shopper has changed, while the new shoppers M&S attract through endorsement and ATL are put off by the environment. It’s imperative that every retailer makes their customer experience appealing, clearly defining where in the store they should be, and not approaching fashion retail as a one-size-fits-all.

Shoppers are intelligent and if you want customers to part with their hard-earned cash, you need to make it appealing, appropriate, and rewarding to your audience. Does anyone you know brag about the ‘joy’ of shopping in M&S due to its in-store experience or similarly about the items they bought? I suspect very few do, therefore by changing perceptions and carrying your ATL message TTL via social and the retail space may facilitate the love M&S desires as a fashion retailer.

 

Read more at: http://www.brandingmagazine.com/2016/12/05/focus-on-streamlining-the-in-store-experience-for-customers-to-return/

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Marc Bolland’s departure from M&S leaves behind an omnichannel legacy

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Marc Bolland’s announcement yesterday has certainly generated some negative press towards the departing CEO of a UK institution that remains one of the country’s biggest and diverse retailers. With many offering “sage” advice to the perceived problems which contributed to a dip in the share price following a full day’s trading, let’s not forget that where other big retailers have spectacularly failed over the last six years, Mr Bolland and the M&S team haven’t done so bad.

Whilst GM (General Merchandise) sales may be down 5.8% in the last quarter and across the year, Mr Bolland did what he set out to achieve six years ago; to a save the retailer which had no digital strategy.

This included three core objectives: food, infrastructure and online presence for the retailer. Each and every objective has been completed and exceeded with M&S food up 3.7% despite not being a grocer in the traditional sense or having an online home delivery food service which helps to bolster trading.

The infrastructure has avoided any embarrassing PR disasters, unlike many competitors, by maintaining adequate stock of core lines and delivery timescales, but more importantly it’s the M&S online presence, managed by Bolland appointee Laura Wade-Grey, that the exiting CEO should be proud of and praised for.

The omnichannel experience is exemplified with click and collect accounting for an impressive 62% of online orders, revealed by Bolland himself on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, a statistic which is far higher than many rivals. It accounted for only 17.7% of the industry’s orders in 2014 and is forecasted to rise by 20% in 2015, far below what M&S has managed to actually achieve in 2015.

M&S has successfully created an omnichannel experience which has embraced a digital platform as not merely an add on, but a standalone experience which lends itself neatly to the M&S customer profile, predicted to be an older customer, to convert them into a satisfied online shopper.

This was perhaps facilitated by avoiding the same levy to customers as main rival John Lewis implemented in 2015, adding a £2 click-and-collect charge on purchases costing less than £30, with Tesco recently following the same course. Many users have complained about the change, and let’s also not ignore that there were a few issues surrounding stability and data protection.

However it can’t be ignored that as an e-commerce site which is easy to navigate and use across any device, M&S has created a true omnichannel experience. Offering a consistent brand identity for consumers and a digital platform which works, sales were up 20.9% over the festive period and served to drive footfall into traditional retail, no doubt to the benefit of other retailers and UK plc.

 

Read more at: http://wallblog.co.uk/2016/01/08/marc-bollands-departure-from-ms-leaves-behind-an-omnichannel-legacy/

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