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Was M&S new £150m site money well spent?

Was M&S new £150m site money well spent?

Marks & Sparks have just spent a reported £150m on their new website. How they managed it is anybody’s guess, but let’s take a look and see if from a content perspective, it was money well spent…

Marks & Sparks have just spent a reported £150m on their new website. How they managed it is anybody’s guess, but let’s take a look and see if from a content perspective, it was money well spent…

M&S New Homepage
M&S New Homepage

First impressions

On first appearance, the new site doesn’t look any different to other department stores such as www.debenhams.com. The navigation is clear, there’s plenty of white space and lots of pictures.

The headings on the home page are big and bold, text is minimal and there’s a clear call to action. With Mother’s Day approaching, the main emphasis is on this with all links leading to Mother’s Day gifts.

So far, so good.

Tone of voice

The style of voice they’ve chosen is informal and casual, e.g. ‘perfect present for Mum’, which reflects a down to earth approach; presumably to shake off the ‘where fusty old grannies shop’ image  (apologies to grannies out there).

Clicking onto a page for flowers, M&S have, again, gone for the minimal approach with only pictures of flowers and a brief description, e.g. ‘Tulip Gift Bag’. However, on this page for skin cream, there is more copy with a post from M&S’s beauty editor, which M&S are using to give the cream some authority.

They further play on the authority theme in the copy with words such as ‘hyaluronic acid’, ‘peptides’ and ‘patented compounds’, which makes it sound scientific, even if no one actually knows what these words mean.

On a more down to earth level, appealing words such as ‘natural’, ‘ideal’ and ‘youthful boost’ have been used. They’re not averse to the odd cliche with phrases like ‘a powerful cocktail of ingredients’.

Many pages are editorially-focused
Many pages are editorially-focused

Editorial focus

The new site features a magazine-style layout and M&S are relying heavily on links to ‘editor’s picks’, which, considering their customer demographic (according to retail-week.com, M&S’s fastest growing online customer is affluent females aged between 55 and 65), could be construed as condescending.

Aren’t their customers intelligent enough to make their own decisions about quality? Do they really need to be told what they should be buying?

Summary

M&S customers don’t want fancy gimmicks – they want to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. It could be argued that this new magazine-style design goes against that fundamental ecommerce functionality.

With regard to copy, there’s not much copy to talk about really. While no one wants to be bombarded with too much text on the internet, a bit more to read on certain pages wouldn’t go amiss.

Martin Harrison

Works at Copify

2 comments

  • It’s still crazy money though, they could have build a team to come up with the same result for a fraction of the cost.

    I guess they have scaling concerns and it had to be a custom solution, I’m sure something like magento wouldn’t be able to handle something of that scale.

    If you check to see what the site is built with though http://builtwith.com/marksandspencer.com you’ll see it’s j2ee, so it’s ENTERPRISE so I guess that justifies the price tag right?