M&S poached Tesco’s Carl Dawson to become its new IT director. Retail Week looks at what he needs to focus on in his new role.
1. Get value out of new platform
M&S has completed its major investment in moving to a new web platform, rumoured to cost around £100m. Although the site has had teething problems, PwC consulting partner David Oliver says that’s not necessarily an IT issue. Oliver says that M&S has invested a lot in technology and part of Dawson’s role will be to ensure that M&S gets value out of that investment.
2. Implementing its new planning and replenishment system
The next big infrastructure project in the offing is a new planning and replenishment system for M&S’s general merchandise business, known internally as GM4. This is a critical area for M&S, which has been plagued by availability issues in recent years.
3. Clean up legacy systems
Although M&S has a shiny new web platform, it does have many legacy systems also running. Dawson needs to clean up or withdraw these systems.
4. Make most out of data
Oliver believes that Dawson’s past experience at Tesco and Shop Direct, organisations that have put data at the heart of their business, should put him in good stead to rejuvenate M&S’ use of data. “Shop Direct’s business was based on data from its catalogue customers, while he worked on the online side in Tesco, so should understand the data that comes from digital” Oliver says.
5. Developing a ‘test and learn’ culture
Like many, M&S is vying to become more agile. It has invested heavily in hiring software engineers so it can develop in-house. Dawson will be charged with developing a culture in his team, accepted throughout the M&S hierarchy, that allows them to ‘test and learn’
6. Better fulfillment options
Marks & Spencer is vying to make its fulfillment options more competitive with same day delivery thought to be a consideration. Dawson will have to ensure data throughout the supply chain is streamlined.
7. Introducing new payments technology
It is understood that M&S is trialing new payment technologies including mobile payment, which predecessor Darrell Stein believed was a good opportunity for its food business. Dawson will be the man to make those fledging trials a reality.
8. In store technology
M&S has trialed a number of technologies in store, most prominent in its Cheshire Oaks shop. Virtual makeovers, browse and order terminals and shop assistants with iPads are all featured in the store. Dawson will have to make sure technology such of this is not just available in one of two flagships but the rest of its estate.