Throughout 2012/13 more customers opted for the convenience of online shopping. We now have over 3.6 million weekly visitors to our UK site, thanks to a combination of improved navigation, more style advice and greater choice, including 40% more online product exclusives.
Our online business now accounts for a greater proportion of our General Merchandise sales at 13% compared to 10.9% last year. Some 40% of all dresses were sold online and one in four M&S suits was sold through our website.
Now available in 476 stores, our Shop Your Way service allows customers to order and collect their shopping in the way that suits them best. This year we improved the offer with the launch of free next day delivery to our stores. The service grew in popularity, with over 54% of M&S.com orders being placed or collected in store.
New ways to shop
Expanding M&S.com not only gives us more reach, but drives more spend from our customers. By providing new ways to access products we attract slightly younger customers and extract more value from our stores.
As explained in UK stores, we made more of our products available to our customers through the introduction of new Browse and Order points to our stores and by equipping more store employees with iPads. Large digital screens play catwalk videos and our new Home and Beauty departments use technology to inspire customers and provide tailored advice and guidance.
In May 2012 we relaunched our mobile-optimised site to deliver an even richer browsing and shopping experience. We launched our first ever transactional iPhone app in July 2012 and created a new M&S Home iPad app, which brings our home catalogue to life in an easy-to-shop format. As a result, mobile and tablet sales increased by almost 200% and now account for 18% of M&S.com sales.
As explained in Our brand, we are tailoring our marketing campaigns to reflect customers’ increasing use of mobile and the completed roll-out of free WiFi has made it even easier for them to browse and buy from their devices in our stores.
Building a world class infrastructure
To fulfil our multi-channel ambitions we need to be an agile business, with the right infrastructure in place and the ability to innovate with pace. This year we made real progress and in February 2013, we launched a new Digital Lab function to help us move faster in developing first-to-market technologies for e-commerce, in-store technology and digital marketing. Our team of specialists test emerging retail technologies, build prototypes and develop concepts for implementation on a larger scale across M&S.
Our new 900,000 sq ft e-commerce distribution centre at Castle Donington opened in May 2013. Located at the heart of the UK’s road and rail network, the fully automated site will help us to better serve customers across the country, with further improvements expected to delivery times and product availability in the year ahead.
During the year we began to introduce elements of our new multi-channel platform. The full new site will launch in Spring 2014, showcasing the best of M&S via a fashion-forward online environment and offering a crisp, easy-to-shop experience.