Around 11% of M&S’ online orders were delivered through instore fulfilment in the past year with the ship from store model increasing customer convenience, improving stock turn and helping to drive customer availability to around 90% compared with around 75% through the online distribution centre alone.
Meanwhile, M&S said that its online fulfilment centre at Castle Donington has now doubled output and is delivering speeds at market levels compared to four years ago when it identified that the centre was struggling to cope with demand and that fulfilment speeds were uncompetitive.
In its latest results this week the retailer said there was still much to do within its business to improve supply and fulfilment. In its clothing and home and food supply chain the company said both require further investment, with particular opportunity in clothing and home to reduce single picking, improve capacity, reduce costs and improve store operations as a result. Its current supply chain picking model can result in the risk of trapped stock and it said there was opportunity to reconfigure the network to support its omnichannel needs better.
M&S said that its returns process is also slow and cumbersome, creating excess handling cost and margin loss. However. the company said it has identified several ways to reduce this – including preparing returns for resale in the store of return or nearby store to help to improve omnichannel availability. Instore the company said that it has introduced more than 60 digital hubs to enable rapid click and collect. The company has also rolled out paper-free returns.