Marks & Spencer unveiled their return to the Netherlands with the announcement of a small store in the heart of Amsterdam. The Amsterdam shop is the first of a plan to roll out a number of larger stores across the country, and was launched on the same day as the new M&S Netherlands website. There was already a high online demand from the Netherlands, with its high level of internet-savvy online shoppers. The new website is designed to cater to this experienced market, with a complementary mobile optimised site so that customers can browse the real and virtual shelves in the store then order online without losing that purchase impulse.
As well as selling food and fashion the 500 square metre Amsterdam store showcases cutting edge technologies to ‘improve and enhance’ the customer experience. Shoppers can browse the physical clothing display rails with their specially edited selection of the latest trends aimed at the Amsterdam clientèle. They can then also check out the latest styles in M&S’s new E-boutique via its Virtual Rails. There are two virtual rails installed in the store, each consisting of three stacked 46” screens, alongside two ‘pillar inspiration screens’ which show images of the clothes being modelled.
Once the customer has been inspired by and played with the combined real and virtual shopping experience, they can use one of the two in-store order points to place their order, with or without assistance from style advisors armed with iPads. The store also has free wifi so that it is effectively free for a customer to use their own mobile device to access the website and place an order.
M&S have 156 browse and order points across 63 stores, and have seen in-store orders increase by 10% on last year. They have over 1,500 iPad wielding customer assistants already, showing that the company is already integrating ‘bricks and clicks’ in their business model, and is now using it to enable them to display a wide range of merchandise in smaller stores.