Apr 30, 2013
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Marks & Spencer launches clicks & bricks store

Apr 30, 2013

The British retailer has launched a new multichannel store concept in the Netherlands, soon to be supplemented with a chain of food stores. These are small stores that could become real tools for offering the entire line of Marks & Spencer through the use of touch screens and click & collect points.

Unveiled in a 500-square-meter space in Amsterdam, the store concept gives customers the chance to view clothing samples. The items can then be ordered on site through various devices for delivery to the same store or the customer's home address. Come September, M&S Simply Food will join the concept, a new brand offering only food but one that gives customers digital access to the retailer's entire catalog, some of which might also be available on site.

"Nothing has been set officially," Michel Koch told FashionMag.com, recently appointed as head of international multichannel trading for the retailer. "But these stores will allow us to respond to a demand for food, all the while strengthening our bricks-and-mortar presence. We are considering various devices in stores. And it would be logistically possible to use these locations as relay stations. We are not ruling out any idea."

If the concept proves successful, Marks & Spencer plans to roll it out in other countries, including France, where it has a strong reputation despite eleven years of absence. Now riding strong with its two stores on the Champs-Elysées (Paris VIII) and southwest of the city (Levallois-Perret), the brand currently has plans to open three other locations, including the shopping centers Beaugrenelle in Paris and Roissy Aéroville.

"We are really focusing on Paris and the immediate Paris region," said Michelle Lamberti, marketing director France. "Because our idea of growth is that it must be done using a nearby logistic network."

The development of the affiliated food stores is the current synthesis of Marks & Spencer's efforts to achieve a multichannel strategy that will leverage the store's fame to make it the go-to address in this sector. "For example, we are going to set up wifi in the stores, connect the sales staff with tablets, install terminals, etc.," said Michel Koch. "We must do everything to facilitate the client's life, digital or otherwise. Because it is well known that a multichannel client who interacts in many ways is more loyal and leaves with a bigger shopping cart. This is how we are improving the customer relationship."

Marks & Spencer operates 703 units in the United Kingdom and around 400 abroad. From January to March, the fourth quarter of its fiscal year, Marks & Spencer international sales grew 7%. Growth in the United Kingdom for the same period was only 0.6%. Sales of "general merchandise," mostly clothing, was down 3.8% in Britain.

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