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M&S shares its recipe for innovation at WIRED Retail


November 27, 2014


At Monday’s WIRED Retail event, guests were given a unique insight into how technology is disrupting the retail model in a truly exciting way by one of the UK’s biggest household names.

Marks and Spencer Digital Labs work to develop innovations across in-store technology and digital platforms, and Hemal Kuntawala was on hand to share the exciting applications the team is developing to transform the retail experience.

“Fail as fast as possible” is the mantra for the team at this start-up inspired lab, he explained, where the team explore ways to make the shopping experience as easy as possible to help convert browsers to buyers.

Here are his tips from the top for running a digital lab:

  1. Listen to inspirers

Understanding the importance of listening to and gathering inspiration from people around you was Kuntawala’s first piece of advice. “Get outside of your domain, too – we talk to fashion designers and psychologists as well as our colleagues,” he urged. Talking to a range of people inside and outside the organisation, he explains, provided the inspiration for the brand’s Plan A sustainability manifesto.

  1. Think like a challenger brand

“Being the David to the Goliath” and bypassing the big business mindset in favour of being more human, empathetic and dynamic is the ethos behind the brand’s digital work, Kuntawala explained.

This drives initiatives to personalise both the in store and online experience – including allowing shoppers to accept or reject garments when shopping online or create an on-screen outfit and buy it within a few clicks.

Technology also helps build on positive in store experiences by enabling individual sales assistants to reconnect with the customer via mobile app to offer product recommendations or answer questions wherever the customer is.

  1. Move fast and iterate

One thing that is most often purchased in a hurry, Kuntawala explained, is shirts, which is why the team has developed an e-commerce experience to make this as easy as possible.  “We invite browsers to select the things that matter to them and display their options by shade. This category-specific approach helps them get to the right version of the item in the shortest time possible.”

Passion, people-focus and personalisation – the ultimate recipe for an innovative customer experience.

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