Marks & Spencer: New in-house website ‘will take 6 months’ to settle

Marks & Spencer has said that its new ecommerce site will take “four to six months” to settle in, after it finished migrating the website from Amazon to its own, in-house platform.

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Marks & Spencer has said that its new ecommerce site will take “four to six months” to settle in, after it finished migrating the website from Amazon to its own, in-house platform.

The replatforming of the website, completed mid-February, was a major infrastructure project for M&S.com.

“We expect it to take four to six months for the new site to settle and for migration to be substantially complete,” the retailer said in its full-year results for 2013/14 this week.

“We are managing this large transition carefully since we expected it would take time for our customers to migrate and get used to the site, as well as for it to settle down technically.”

Nonetheless, the new web platform was launched “on time and on budget”, M&S said.

According to the retailer, the new website offers improved search functionality, enhanced imagery and a better view of stock availability, which is refreshed every 15 minutes and live at the checkout.

“The site is also built on a flexible platform to enable continuous improvement in line with evolving technology and retail trends,” M&S said.

The retailer said it has so far migrated 2.5 million customers to the new platform, processed over three million orders and made “hundreds” of optimisations to website journeys.

Connecting digital and physical

Sales via the website “outperformed” the market by growing 23 percent, M&S reported, with visits to the site increasing by nine percent this year, and its online business accounting for 15 percent of general merchandise sales. This is up from 13 percent last year.

Mobile sales have also increased, by over 90 percent, while sales from tablet devices have doubled and now account for around 25 percent of online sales, compared with 15 percent last year.

More than half (55 percent) of online orders are being collected in stores or ordered in-store for home delivery.

Ordering online and collecting goods in store is an increasingly popular and successful method for retailers to bridge the gap between the digital and physical world. Other retailers also benefiting from the initiative include John Lewis and Burberry.

Supply chain update

M&S also said that its plan to deliver a single tier distribution network, reducing the number of distribution centres from over 100 sites to just six main sites, by 2016/17 was “on track”.

This project, announced in May 2013, aims to reduce lead time between products getting from distribution centres to stores by 70 percent, inventory by 33 percent and logistics cost by 30 percent.

M&S said it had changed its plan from setting up a distribution site in the London area to instead operating from two new, highly automated, national distribution centres (NDCs) at Castle Donington and Bradford, supported by four existing regional distribution centres, which will be converted into NDCs.

“This will use our capital investment more efficiently, with a planned £130 million reduction in investment whilst largely retaining associated benefits,” it said.

A key part of the supply chain investment this past year was to ramp up the capacity of the Castle Donington site - which has overcome its initial teething problems in the IT supply chain - and to start work on fitting out the Bradford site.

“Our dedicated e-commerce and national distribution centre at Castle Donington opened in May 2013. Ramp up of volume continues as planned, with around 90 percent of ecommerce orders now processed through this new facility,” M&S said.

Overall, M&S reported a 3.9 percent fall in pre-tax profits to £623 million for the year to 29 March 2014.

M&S CIO Darrell Stein, responsible for the replatforming of the new website, recently left the company for Reckitt Benckiser

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