viewMarks and Spencer Group PLC

M&S should consider tie-up with Amazon, says former digital boss

"Ultimately working with the likes of Amazon is probably a good way to tackle the digital space," said former M&S global digital director Marcus East

M&S plans to close 100 stores by 2022

Marks and Spencer Group Plc (LON:MKS) should “seriously” consider a tie-up with Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), a former digital boss of the British retailer has suggested.

Marcus East, who worked at M&S as global digital director for about a year until 2017 when he left to join US publisher National Geographic as chief technology officer, told BBC Radio 5 Live that the company needs to take a good look at improving its online services.

READ: M&S confirms 100 store closures ahead of full year results as it moves sales online

M&S used Amazon’s technology for support for its website from 2007 to 2014 but East believes an expanded partnership could benefit the group. 

"I would agree that for a lot of retailers, whilst they've put up a great fight, ultimately working with the likes of Amazon is probably a good way to tackle the digital space,” he said.

In response to a question on whether M&S should be selling items through Amazon, he said: "I don't know what the dynamics of the business are today, but they've got to be looking seriously at it."

M&S store closures

Last month M&S announced it would shut 100 stores by 2022 as part of a plan to move a third of its sales online and have fewer, larger stores in better locations.

Fellow UK retailers Debenhams and House of Fraser have announced similar plans as high street stores come under pressure from rising online competition and weaker consumer confidence.

East said there were only a few traditional retailers that had managed to tackle the digital space.

“Those companies that are most successful are ones that have a strong digital culture, so it's actually quite hard to take a traditional business and to get it to be successful in the digital space and I think that's why you see the pure plays, like ASOS plc (LON:ASC) and Amazon, being incredibly successful at growing their customer bases,” he said.

"I think there are a couple of factors that support that. One is being online lets you build a really deep connection with your consumer.

“You can understand your customer much better, because you've got access to so much data about what they're looking at and what they're buying. You can also react much more quickly to the marketplace."

Quick facts: Marks and Spencer Group PLC

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