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Why M&S website sales fell 8.1%

By Fiona Ness on Tue 22 July 2014 in Topical

Earlier this year Marks and Spencer launched their new website. Whilst this should be a good thing, and whilst M&S are convinced everything has gone to plan, some are referring to the new site as a nightmare. An opinion reflected by the 8.1% fall in online sales.

If you’ve missed the problems Marks and Spencer have been having, simply take a look at the customer comments on their Facebook page, or Google ‘M&S website’. Words such as ‘rubbish’, ‘awful’ and ‘issues’, are just a few used amongst many other negative opinions of the site.

So, where did they really go wrong? Finance Director, Alan Stewart, has put the fall in sales down to a ‘settling in period’, experienced in the launch of most sites. However, it is easy to outline some clear issues that suggest this settling in period has gone on far too long:

Their new website took 2 years to build.

Online shopping habits are continually changing. So, whilst everything they’d designed 2 years ago may have been what their customers were looking for, the likelihood is it was out of date by the time the site was actually launched.

They moved away from a ‘standard’ eCommerce design.

Online shopping is supposed to be quick and easy. The new magazine style layout, which is difficult to navigate and buy on, has left M&S customers frustrated.

All customers were asked to reregister.

This was just too much effort for half of M&S’s original online customers (3 million in fact). And, for those who did make the effort, it was back to the drawing board for favourites and frequently purchased items.

All in all, M&S have made the same mistake as a few other big brand names, such as Barratts, did last year. They have not offered the same service online as they do on the high street and therefore have lost some loyalty in the transition to online shopping.

What does this mean for you?

If you’re thinking about moving online, or already have, it is vital that you offer your customers the same experience they get offline, online. If anything, this experience should be easier and more convenient. For example, don’t implement a difficult & unfamiliar interface like M&S.

Offer your customers relevant & key information on their account, like their own pricing & order history. This way you are making their online experience personal, quick & easy, encouraging them to order online rather than phone you.

Ed Beard, from digital agency DigitasLBi, suggests that the secret to good eCommerce is not being ‘too clever’ and we completely agree. ProsepctSoft’s Easy eCommerce can have you up and running with a website that will bring through those vital customer details online in as little as 6 weeks.