Integrating content within Marks & Spencer’s ecommerce site has finally paid off for the retailer, despite a very rocky start to the website relaunch last year.


According to director of M&, David Walmsley, weaving content and commerce together has generated sales for the retailer.

Since the retailer moved off Amazon’s platform and took its online offering in-house last year, the retailer has overhauled its ecommerce presence to better appeal to consumers and reflect changing browsing and shopping habits.

But its new website initially failed to strike the right note with consumers, and saw a dip in online sales last year.

Speaking at the British Retail Consortium’s Omichannel Retailing event in London yesterday, Walmsley described how the retailer is using content creation and editorial to engage better with its customers online.  

“It’s the convergence of content and commerce,” he said. “We think traditional media and advertising has become less prevalent for us. We need to do more than simply push product.”

Examples of this are using social media and its Style and Living online blog. The blog features the ‘editors pick of the day’, and on one occasion where it showed a pair of ladies loafers, Walmsley said 90% of the shoes were sold online after they were included as part of the blog’s editorial.

Walmsley said M& is trying to draw the customer’s eye to new things from the retailer’s very diverse range of products.

“This is a vital step forward for us,” he said. “We publish every day and we’re always pushing new content out there, it’s a reason to return and engage with us.”

Another curated way of showcasing M&S products online is the website’s ‘outfit’ suggestion, where if you look at a top it suggests how you can put it together as an outfit.

“You might call it a cross-sale,” said Walmsley, saying the customer might buy that extra item, but he said it also reassures the customer about the item she’s buying as she might realise she could wear that top with something similar in her wardrobe.

The retailer has also put a lot of effort into its product imagery. “I love the photography on our site,” he said. “We’ve made a massive step forward.”

M& made a decision to take away the boxes online, and framed the items with white space to give them “space to breath”.

Snacking on content

He said bringing content and commerce together provides M& customers with the opportunity to browse and snack on content, which mirrors how people use mobile devices today.

“I don’t think anyone has cracked a different tablet journey yet. But in terms of what is next for us with mobile and tablet, we’re going to continue to play around with content and commerce,” explained Walmsley saying people are time poor and get distracted by mobile devices.

“People take 30 seconds to check out Facebook on their mobile, how can we play in that space?” he asked.