M&S overhauls data strategy

Marks & Spencer is boosting its data strategy in an attempt to ride out the economic storm, which has already seen its operating profit dip £40m in the past six months alone.
Details of the shake-up, including a new realtime stock management system, and a new point-of-sale scheme, emerged as M&S reported its half-year results.
The SAP system will allow managers to drill down into each range of products to see which lines are selling – why and where – and which ones are bringing in the highest profits. It is also in the process of implementing a new forecasting and ordering system in its food business, aimed at reducing levels of waste.
M&S also continues to expand its online business, with online sales up nearly 12% on the previous year, although growth has slowed in its M&S Direct, which had reported a 49% rise in sales in the same period a year ago.
The company has launched trials of in-shop deployments of tablets and in-store touch-screen ordering points, which have enabled it to offer customers access to fashion ranges that can normally only be found in its largest stores.
M&S chief executive Marc Bolland said: “Against a challenging consumer backdrop, we took decisive action to manage the business through the short term, while continuing our focus on investing in creating a stronger platform for future growth.”
Overall, sales at the group rose 2.4% year on year to £4.7bn, but operating profits dipped to £366m for the six months to October, down from £409m in the previous year.

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