The Marks and Spencer customer, we are told, is a fashion conscious 50-something with her own income. Walking around a Marks and Spencer store however, doesn’t support that.
The M&S target customer has given up shopping there, disappointed that what she finds isn’t for her, evidenced by the continuing downturn of womenswear sales. This Christmas looks like it will be more of the same judging by a recent visit to its Fosse Park store, so what would we suggest M&S do to turn the tide?
Give clearly identifiable roles to in-house brands.
A typical M&S store carries multiple womenswear brands including Limited Edition, Per Una, Classics, Autograph, Indigo and M&S Collection and there could be a place for each of them if they didn’t overlap and tread on each other’s toes. This is synonymous with the identity crisis that M&S has experienced, not knowing which customer they want to serve and ultimately not serving anyone. An edit of the brands and a redefining of their roles would leave the customer with a clear reason to shop each brand and a place for each in her wardrobe.
Help the customer navigate the store with clearer signage.
Aligned with the confusing brand architecture is confusing signage and store layout. Brands blur from one into another leaving the customer disoriented and drifting aimlessly. While that can lead to accidental new discoveries, better to present the customer with what they wanted to and expected to find.
Ranges can be disjointed with surprising garment adjacencies, limiting the opportunity for the customer to buy into a range. A clear and consistent interpretation of the design brief should be a given but it still feels that isn’t entirely on point. Add to that the range breadth that is allocated to smaller stores and the ability for a customer to buy an outfit is impeded.
Last on the customer’s Christmas list for M&S is an inspiring store environment that encourages her to buy, to browse and to come back again to see what is new. The store can just feel flat. Even this Christmas, the advertising promised magic and sparkle and it was well disguised behind a display of poinsettas.
So come on M&S, grant the customer her Christmas wishes and get M&S back on track.
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