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M&S Cheshire Oaks store sets out to redefine multichannel shopping

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M&S has opened its largest store outside of London and is using it to showcase its vision for the next generation shopping experience, bringing together better signage, digital displays, iPads and free wifi to make the in-store experience multichannel.

Cheshire Oaks is the first M&S store to make extensive use of all the latest technology and innovations in multi-channel to create an enhanced, more convenient and inspirational customer shopping experience, says the retailer’s CEO Marc Bolland.

Included in the new approach to in-store retailing are:

• High-definition display screens located throughout the store aim to inspire customers by showcasing the latest looks or offers;

• 12 Browse and Order screens allow customers to order from the entire M&S catalogue in-store and have it delivered to any M&S store for free, or to a postal address for a delivery charge;

• Customer assistants equipped with iPads who can help customers find items or help place orders;

• First-to-market technology such as the ‘Virtual Makeover’ counter and ‘Duvet and Pillow Selector’ that help customers choose a look for an item that suits their personal requirements;

• QR codes located on decor inside and outside of the store, which help customers connect and discover more about M&S product ranges and the store – from customer product reviews to Food to Order entertaining menus to the various eco-features.

All the above are supported by free customer wifi throughout the store – something M&S has plans to roll out across all its stores through 2013, in a push to better meld in-store and e- and m-commerce.

The new technology will feature throughout the store, but it is in the new homeware department that it comes into its own. Using cutting-edge technology alongside new display and signage concepts, customers are able to seamlessly browse the latest M&S ranges to create a living room, kitchen or bathroom that suits them, including using 70” display screens that showcase key design themes from M&S collections – Clerkenwell, Caravan, Kensington, Conran and Marcel Wanders. iPads and 32” interactive browsing screens are also located in the department to let customers easily peruse the entire catalogue.

Marc Bolland, Chief Executive of Marks & Spencer, said at the stores opening (which he undertook with Joanna Lumley): “We’ve been working hard over the past 18 months to deliver a more inspirational shopping environment for our customers. We’ve developed better navigation, clearly defined our sub brands, we’ve made it easier to ‘shop the shop’, developed new Home and Beauty concepts and have a new look Food hall to better demonstrate the freshness and specialty of our food. We’ve achieved this by using new technology and a much more interactive shopping experience so that customers can ‘shop their way’. Cheshire Oaks is a special store as it is all here, under one roof for the first time – the very best of M&S.

“This is also our greenest ever M&S store and we call it a ‘sustainable learning store’ as around 60 per cent of the eco features featured in Cheshire Oaks will become standard spec for M&S stores.”

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