Can M&S reinvigorate online food shopping or are they too late to the party?
Whatever happens with the rest of its offer, M&S can always depend on its food halls to draw in the crowds. Accounting for 58 per cent of turnover (£5.6bn) in 2016, its food business is propping up its GM offer, so it’s no surprise that it’s also driving its longer-term strategy.
But what has M&S got planned that might set it apart from the rest of the grocery shopping pack? Especially when the announcement that it plans to trial online grocery shopping this autumn comes hot on the heels of news that it plans to open 36 new stores over the next six months - 34 of which will be dedicated to food.
Is it a cover-all strategy or part of a much smarter game plan to leverage its hard-worn brand loyalty in an increasingly omnichannel world?
In his 2016 annual report, CEO Steve Rowe committed to giving M&S food shoppers more of what they want – ‘health, convenience, special occasions and gifting’ – and it’ll be interesting to see how this promise translates in to the online arena.
And in a market where every big player offers a very similar shopping experience, could technological or service innovation be the USP M&S has up its sleeve? Might it build on the growing popularity of its Sparks loyalty scheme? Or follow Waitrose down the recipe box route to target M&S ‘cook from scratch’ customer?
And as we’re currently working on our next whitepaper, focused on online shopping, so will be watching carefully to see how this one plays out…
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