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M&S expands its international ecommerce business to 100 markets as global customers shift online

Image courtesy of M&S

Marks & Spencer has expanded its international online business to more than 100 markets through 46 flagship websites as customers around the world shift online

The launch of new clothing and homewares websites serving markets from Argentina to Uzbekistan mean the retailer has almost doubled the number of markets that it sells to through a standalone online website. The move is part of its strategy of to “turbocharging” its online business through the Never the Same Again transformation programme that has emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

In its latest half-year the retailer reported a 75% rise in international ecommerce sales as customers shifted online during the pandemic. It says that one straight leg style of jeans was a bestseller across many of its international markets. Now the retailer aims to build on the online opportunity both in the UK and internationally – and says insights from its UK M& website show strong demand for the markets served by its current roll out. 

M&S international director Paul Friston says: “Our international business has seen strong online growth since the start of the pandemic as increasing numbers of customers choose to shop through our range of flagship websites. Under our Never the Same Again programme we’re focused on turbocharging our online business both in the UK and internationally, and as part of this we see a real opportunity in extending the number of countries where we run an online channel further. 

“Launching in an additional 46 markets means we can now reach a number of new customers who can purchase online with M&S for the first time and receive our fantastic M&S products in a few short clicks, as well as enabling us to explore underlying demand in these markets without significant upfront investment.”

M&S says it is taking a low cost approach to international expansion. It is adapting a core platform designed for its international business and customers to its different markets. The site is further localised through the addition of 10 extra languages and a wider range of currencies than previously. Orders are fulfilled through its existing distribution network and, says M&S, ongoing costs will mirror customer demand. 

Commenting, Elliott Jacobs, director, digital marketing EMEA at LiveArea, says: “The Never the Same Again programme reflects M&S’ recognition that the retail market has changed for good. As local lockdowns shut physical stores across the globe, the opportunities of an online model have become too clear to ignore. The fruits of ecommerce are inestimable, and M&S’ expansion will allow the retailer to capitalise on the opportunities of a global marketplace. 

“Many companies attempt a one-size fits all approach when expanding internationally, but each market has its own nuances that need to be fully understood. M&S will be using a website platform designed for international sales which, combined with its well-oiled distribution networks, will allow the retailer to localise offers while adapting to, and predicting, constantly changing trends across local markets.

“It’s digital or die in today’s retail landscape, and those who shun digital will not stand the test of time.”

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