While it seems everyone’s gone digital by now, it appears that Marks & Spencer might be a little late to the party. Back in May this year, the company announced that they had suffered a 64% drop in profits.
In response to this, CEO Steve Rowe has hopes that injecting new life into the brand will help “make the business special again.”
He said: “It’s always been the case that this business is best when it truly has the customer at its heart. And as we’ve done throughout history we deliver service which is truly personal, this is even more important in a digital age.”
M&S have been guilty of not really keeping up with the times and taking note from other online competitors like Amazon. However, Rowe has recognised that the brand has fallen short here and wants to address this concern.
“M&S continues to be disrupted on many fronts. We have competitors that were barely there a decade ago. In the digital space, some of platforms with vast product range. Some of our competitors global and now have a scale much greater than we have and that goes for food as well as for clothing. Customers today have more choice and more channels than ever before and therefore value for money is far higher up the agenda.”
Rowe has released his thoughts and plans for the digital revamp of M&S. “We’ll use a full range of mobile devices to help colleagues drive cross shopping, outfit building and deliver solutions for our customers. Much of which is on trial today. Essential to our brand philosophy has been contribution to the community. We’ll be famous for this again.”
He went on to say: “We will build on our capability as a digital first business. As we look further to the future, we’re clear that our online business will not be marginal to Marks & Spencer. We aspire to having about one-third of our business, our clothing & home business trading profitably online by 2022. With a broad network of pick up points underpinned by network capable of market leading fast fulfilment. That is what is being a digital retailer should allow us to achieve.
As part of this journey, we’re clear we have to become a digital first retailer and improve our online proposition urgently across all devices. Our sites need to become faster and easier to navigate, we need to strengthen our search algorithms and make sure that our content is both functional and inspirational. This will mean delivering a seamless online and offline customer experience. Further development of our shop your way pick up proposition, home delivery and pick up store solution is also required as well as best in class fast delivery system.”
While this sounds promising, Rowe has been accused by some as being overly cautious, which could potentially have cost the company in terms of growth and their ability to keep up with the competition.
He said this in May: “We’re carefully reviewing food online. Not being in the market so far has cost us nothing, but we need to be ready for the future. Therefore, we’re conducting a very, very, very, I can’t use that word very enough, small trial to assess customers’ response. On the very, very, very small trial that we’re doing, at this stage, we’re going to use store pick and that’s really for economics if nothing else.”
So could it be that M&S is trying to do too much too late? Caution and optimism can be great for businesses but in the case of M&S, will it be enough to pull the brand out of a bad patch?
What do you think about M&S’s new digital ideas? Are you keeping up to date with your competitors or falling behind? Let us know your thoughts.