M&S online sales bring ray of hope

M&S pins hopes on new data strategyAs Marks & Spencer shareholders pick through the bones of its latest disappointing results, at least one area of the business is booming after the retailer revealed sales on M&S.com rose by 38.7% in the first quarter of 2015.
The site, which cost £100m to build in 2012, has struggled to take off. Last summer M&S suffered an 8% sales decline in online sales due to problems with the site.
The retailer has been continually updating its website and distribution centres since 2012 to make the supply chain process more efficient. M&S claims these improvements have led to an increase in customer satisfaction as well as website traffic and conversion rates.
Chief executive Marc Bolland said: “We continue to make progress against our key priorities. Our food business did very well in a difficult market. M&S.com performance was very strong, with customers appreciating all the improvements to our website.”
M&S has been implementing a data strategy to improve its overall business, including the use of predictive analytics, to ensure shelves are fully stocked; the use of customer engagement methods; and the adoption of RFID tagging, to keep track of merchandise across the business.
Earlier this year, the retailer revealed trials of a mobile phone-based loyalty scheme for hot drinks, designed to replace the cardboard stamp version.
Dubbed M&S Barista, the mobile app has been launched in partnership with mobile couponing and voucher technology company Eagle Eye, which already works with Tesco on its digital Clubcard vouchers and Pizza Express.

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