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How we sell


Multi-channel: This year we have brought all of our shopping channels under the same management to allow us to focus on becoming a seamless multi-channel business, providing customers with the same high quality service every time and whichever way they choose to shop with us.

We’ve delivered another strong performance in our Direct business, increasing sales by 27% to £413.3m and remain on target to achieve £500m by 2010/11. This year we’ve also launched ‘Shop Your Way’, to provide customers with more flexibility and choice in their delivery options.

Our Stores, Total UK Portfolio:
  • 10 Premiere
  • 42 Major
  • 242 High Street
  • 46 Outlets
  • 156 Simply Food (wholly-owned)
  • 194 Simply Food (franchises)
Total UK new stores in 2009/10
Total square footage added
M&S Direct Sales
£413.3m* +27%

Includes: Website, home catalogue, flower and wine delivery, Food to Order party catering service, lunchtogo and call centres

*52 weeks

Driving a Multi-channel business

Customers shop with M&S in many ways. Whether they are shopping in store, at home, in the office or over the phone, our aim is that every customer receives the same consistently high level of service from purchase through to delivery.

Shop Your Way

Launched on a trial basis in July 2009, our ‘Shop your Way’ service enables customers to place clothing, beauty and homeware orders either in stores, online or over the phone. They can then opt for delivery to either a nominated address or free to their nearest store for collection.

Since roll-out, the latter has proved very popular, with around 13% of customers who order online choosing to collect in store and driving footfall as a result.

‘Shop your Way’ has been welcomed by smaller stores, as the service brings the wider M&S product catalogue to their local customers. Weekly orders now stand at £2.5m and following the successful trial, ‘Shop your Way’ has been rolled-out to over 300 UK stores, with a roll-out to Simply Food stores underway in 2010.


In October 2009 we relaunched our website, responding to customer demands for a more engaging, interactive web experience.

The refresh included the introduction of catwalk videos and rotating images to enable customers to see clothes from every angle. We also introduced a more powerful and flexible search facility allowing customers to search by department for faster and more accurate results. The upgrade includes stock availability information to help avoid disappointment. A pop-up shopping basket means customers can now automatically view and buy their selection without being diverted from their shopping page.

Following the upgrade, the site was ranked the UK’s most user-friendly retail website in the 2009 Webcredible survey, up from eighth in 2008. The improvements have also increased revenues, with conversion rates up 9% since launch. Online clothing market share has also increased from 5.3% to 5.6%.

Launched in February 2009, M&S TV is part of our website and uses video to showcase our latest products and services, using M&S experts to give advice on everything from how to accessorise an outfit to cooking the perfect Christmas dinner.

M&S TV features a Click-to-Buy function that allows customers to quickly buy what they see on screen, with click-through rates as high as 30%. M&S TV content has appeared on Facebook and Twitter and in December we launched a YouTube channel, to further extend the reach.

Talking to customers

As part of the site refresh we also increased the prominence of our customer product ratings and reviews. We know our customers value these independent views and that they can boost conversation rates, as customers that have read a product review are twice as likely to buy than customers that haven’t.

We have also embraced broader social networking opportunities such as Facebook and Twitter. We currently have over 112,000 fans on our Facebook site, which provides the ideal forum for us to test new product ideas and tap into the opinions of an engaged customer base.

Home catalogue

M&S Home catalogue

The circulation of our Home Catalogue continues to grow, reaching over 1.6 million customers this year and acting as a source of ideas and inspiration. Given the square footage requirements of furniture, it’s not possible to showcase our full Home offer in all stores but our Home catalogue is an opportunity for customers to view the entire range at their leisure.

M&S Home Catalogue was named Best Catalogue at the 2009 Association of Publishing Agencies (APA) International Customer Publishing Awards.

International delivery

In October 2009 we expanded our international delivery service and we now deliver to 80 international destinations, from France, Germany and Spain to Africa, USA, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

Store strategy

Our stores remain the most popular way for customers to shop with M&S, with 21 million customers visiting us each week. There are five main elements to our store strategy:

  • add new and extend existing major out of town stores
  • enhance our position in major cities
  • extend our presence in retail parks
  • continue and complete our high street modernisation strategy and review stores that underperform
  • continue to build on our successful long-term Simply Food business.

Our stores

M&S Store

Over the last five years we have conducted an extensive modernisation programme and to date almost 80% of the M&S chain has been updated. Our aim is to deliver a bright, contemporary shopping environment where goods are easy to find and where a range of hospitality options are on offer.

Where possible we have added additional space to our existing sites. Over the last 12 months we have undertaken major developments of both our Liverpool store and Pudsey store in Leeds, adding over 27,000 sq ft to these two sites alone.

This year we obtained planning permission for a new 150,000 sq ft store in Cheshire Oaks. Due to open in autumn 2012, Cheshire Oaks will be a state of the art store, designed in line with our environmental credentials. It will be our largest store outside London – our flagship Marble Arch store (pictured above) is 170,000 sq ft, whereas an average M&S store is around 45,000 sq ft.

We have responded to the popularity of retail park shopping, opening at four new retail park sites in Swindon, Bristol, Cheltenham and Aberdeen. We now have 30 stores in retail parks and plan to open new stores at Haverford West and Tunbridge Wells during 2010/11.

Our Simply Food stores, which are a mixture of wholly-owned and franchised stores, continue to perform well. With our franchise partner SSP we have expanded our Simply Food offer into hospital sites, opening three successful stores at St Georges’ in Tooting, St Thomas’ in London and the Royal Berkshire in Reading.

Our cafés and restaurants now offer coffee and snacks as well as a sit down meal. They are inviting and encourage our customers to relax and spend longer in our stores.

Service in store

We are committed to maintaining the highest standards of customer service and to do so, all of our stores are visited once a month – twice in the case of flagship stores – by mystery shoppers. Staff are scored on a number of factors, such as service at the point of sale, body language and how they welcome customers into store. Over the last 12 months customer service has improved, with an average mystery shopper score of 89%, up 5% on last year.

Foundations for growth

Our distribution network supports all of our shopping channels, ensuring we can fulfil customer orders and deliver efficiently. In September 2009 we announced plans for a dedicated e-commerce warehouse, due to open in 2012. You can find more on the improvements we have made in this area in the IT & logistics section of this report.

Looking ahead

Our aim is to make shopping with M&S as convenient as possible for our customers – from the way they buy through to the way products are delivered. By bringing together our channels we will provide them with even greater flexibility and choice, allowing them to shop in the way that best suits their lifestyle.

Integrating the channels also represents a significant opportunity for us, if we can grow the number of people that shop online with us to be equal to the number that shop in store. We will continue to capitalise on this opportunity by developing our services in line with changing shopping habits and emerging technologies. The M&S brand values also put us in a strong position to grow and develop in this area, as trust is essential in remote purchasing, be it via a mobile or on the internet. Our customers trust us to deliver, whichever way they shop with us.

Green stores In line with our Plan A commitments all our new stores are built to the highest environmental standards. Our Westfield store (featured below) includes a displacement ventilation system, low energy lighting accompanied by sensors and controls and CO2 food refrigeration.

Find out more at

Photo of M&S store
M&S catwalk style videos


Catwalk style Customers told us they loved shopping online with us, but that static images made it hard to tell if an item of clothing would suit them. As a result, we’ve introduced catwalk style videos so customers can view the product from every angle and better envisage how it might look on them.

M&S Materials swatch


Swatch this space As part of our website upgrade customers can now view actual fabric swatches for products across our Home range. The high clarity images provide a more accurate depiction of colour and pattern, giving customers greater confidence in their purchase. Since launch Home sales online have increased by 20%.

M&am;S bottle of red wine


Wine Club The M&S Wine Club has gained a loyal following since its launch in 2008, with over 10,000 subscribers. Our Wine Plan now offers customers the choice of a contemporary or premium plan, providing a hand picked selection of fine wines conveniently delivered direct to their door on a monthly basis.


Innovation and services

M&S goes mobile As traditional online retail matures, mobile is expected to become the growth area for internet retailing and in May 2010 M&S become the first major UK high street retailer to launch a mobile shopping site. Customers on the move are able to search, browse and buy easily from any web-enabled mobile phone or device. The site is always in sync with the main M&S website so that customers can log into their regular online account and manage their shopping basket from their mobile.

M&S customer at the tills


Putting customers first Customer service has improved throughout the year, according to our mystery shopper scores, which are up 5% on last year to 89%.

M&S Cheshire Oaks store on a laptop screen


Cheshire Oaks At 150,000 sq ft Cheshire Oaks store will be the largest new store built by Marks & Spencer for over 10 years. Due to open in autumn 2012 the store will offer extensive hospitality options, including a M&S café, restaurant and deli. It will also feature a 950-space car park.