Marks & Spencer's Multi-Channel Superstore
British retailer Marks & Spencer is hoping to bridge the gap between physical and online shopping with its new superstore, which opened this week at Cheshire Oaks, north-west England.
Boldly described by M&S director of retail Steve Rowe as “the future of retail”, the vast store (151,000 sq ft) is kitted out with ‘Browse and Order’ hubs where shoppers can view products on giant touchscreens. Using the free wi-fi, shoppers can also buy items they see in the store on their smartphones by scanning in QR codes.
Ensuring that the tech-tastic approach doesn’t overwhelm more traditional shoppers, of which M&S has many, a team of iPad-equipped assistants is also on hand to help with the selection process – including a new-look beauty department offering “virtual makeovers” via a touchscreen.
This venture into the digital realm is more than just a passing phase – M&S has reported plans to invest a further £100m ($159.9m) on new in-store technology across its store portfolio and a further £150m ($239.8m) to upgrade its website.
With a shop-floor area equivalent to 11 Olympic swimming pools, the Cheshire Oaks store is the second largest M&S site in the world after its Marble Arch (London) flagship. It is also the brand’s greenest store to date, featuring carbon-absorbing hemp walls and an undulating roof made of FSC-certified engineered softwood timber.