Marks & Spencer aims to set new standards in ecommerce from a customer point of view as it enhances its supply chain capabilities.

Speaking at the launch of the retailer’s Castle Donington ecommerce distribution centre, M&S multichannel ecommerce director Laura Wade-Gery promised “market leading” innovations.

Late order cut-off times, tightly defined delivery slots and same-day delivery have become key battlegrounds in ecommerce, led by retailers such as Asos and Next.

Wade-Gery said that such capabilities were “a game we want to play” but that M&S had been hamstrung by its infrastructure and use of Amazon’s platform, which it is moving off.

She said that the combination of the new fulfillment centre and a new platform would enable M&S to push ahead over the next year.

“Take it from me, I’m not going to settle for anything less than market-leading,” she maintained.

The 900,000 sq ft Castle Donington distribution centre will be able to process 1 million items a day when it is at full capacity and is part of the retailer’s programme to create a “fast, agile and flexible supply chain”. It will operate 24 hours a day and store 150,000 different products.

Wade-Gery pointed out that M&S has a 6% market share in online clothing and footwear, compared with 11% through its stores, illustrating the extent of the “prize” to be won.

She said: “Ecommerce has become the cuckoo in the business nest. We have outgrown the infrastructure.

“This [Castle Donington] is an enormously important milestone for our ecommerce business and our plan to be a leading multichannel retailer.”

However, Investec analyst Bethany Hocking sounded a note of caution about the pledge to be industry-leading. She said: “This set some alarm bells ringing for us in terms of potential costs – the profit headwinds from the outperformance of ecommerce has to date been “significant” and a fundamental improvement in delivery options is likely to be negative to group profitability two-fold – firstly in terms of increased costs and secondly from the decline in traditional store profitability assuming sales are transferred online.”