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Amazon to handle M&S online ordering

Marks & Spencer has appointed Amazon, the online retailer, to provide a new technology base for its own Website and customer ordering system.

The agreement is designed to improve the efficiency of the M&S Website and its telephone and in-store ordering systems, which the company believes could perform a lot better.

Steven Sharp, director of marketing and e-commerce at M&S, said: "Marks & Spencer already has a successful Website with over 24 million visits every year, but our e-commerce and customer ordering capabilities have yet to reach their full potential. A partnership with Amazon will help us achieve this, while allowing us to concentrate on our core business of retailing."

M&S will still run the Website and will be responsible for content but Amazon's technology will knit together the Website with the other elements of its ordering process to make it an integrated experience for consumers whether they are buying products in-store, online or by telephone. M&S will remain responsible for the management of its Website, customer service operations, warehousing and distribution.

The first phase of the work will be completed in the summer of next year. Amazon already has similar relationships in the UK with Borders and Waterstone's, the high-street bookseller, and in the US it supplies Website services to retailers such as Target.

Mark Stabingas, senior vice-president, worldwide business development and services for Amazon, said: "We look forward to sharing our e-commerce expertise with Marks & Spencer to enable them to focus on branding and merchandising. Our goal is to provide their customers with a true multi-channel experience, regardless of how they choose to shop or order merchandise."

Amazon has set up a Luxembourg-based subsidiary, Amazon Services, to provide technology support to retailers in Europe.

Once M&S's ordering system is integrated by Amazon, customers will be able to place orders, monitor them, check delivery times and alter the order online, by telephone or by visiting a store. The company refused to say what impact the agreement was expected to have on its online business.

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