Marks and Spencer have revealed plans to reopen all clothing and home space across its stores, following confirmation of the start of non-essential retail reopening from April 12 in England and Wales.
The retailer explained in a press statement that it would be refreshing its store services to “best serve customers how they want to shop today,” following changes in customers’ shopping habits that have been accelerated by the pandemic.
This will include permanently keeping what they call “firm favourites” like a colleague greeter at the door, as well as adding new digitally powered services to enable customers, such as easier payment options and contact-free bra fit.
Marks and Spencer revealed that at its 250 stores that sell lingerie, customers can choose from a contact-free bra fit from its expert colleagues or a virtual at home appointment with an M&S expert via video.
In addition, the retailer is expanding its on-the-spot payment service Pay With Me, introduced in the run-up to Christmas to help with queues, to 50 of its top lingerie stores, so customers can purchase lingerie straight after their bra fit appointment without needing to visit a till.
Marks and Spencer will offer an 8pm cut off for free next day pick up at over 800 stores via its click-and-collect service. It is also trialling new innovations including express collection and digital check-in’s at around 20 stores to make collecting orders easier for customers.
Video powered retail will also be available across furniture and beauty, with customers able to connect via video appointment with specialist colleagues in-store at M&S White City, one of its five digital trials stores.
With outdoor dining allowed to resume from April 12, the retailer added that 14 M&S Cafes will have dedicated outdoor seating areas, while nearly 100 cafes will offer takeaway.
Marks and Spencer launching services including contact-free bra fit and easier payment options for April 12 reopening
Sacha Berendji, Marks and Spencer retail, operations and property director, said in a statement: “The last year has accelerated many of the trends and shopping patterns we were seeing pre-crisis, and we have responded as part of our Never the Same Again transformation programme to build a shopping experience that’s fit for the future and one that enables customers to shop the way they want.
“As we start to reopen our clothing and home space, we’ve pulled out all the stops to deliver the stylish, relevant products our customers are searching for, and help deliver a more flexible, easier and rewarding shopping experience for our customers so that they have everything they need to be ready to bring on the summer.”
Marks and Spencer also revealed new research suggesting that nearly two-thirds of its customers are looking forward to dressing up in smarter or more stylish clothes than they have worn in lockdown. Online demand for dresses has “steadily grown” since the end of February and last week the retailer saw “big search increases” for sandals and sunglasses, with its ‘new in’ womenswear page now the most visited on M&S.com.
Alison Grainer, Marks and Spencer head of clothing and home for retail, shared her shopping predictions: “We know lots of customers are excited about dressing up for picnics and alfresco dining with friends and family and our stores will be bursting with tiered dresses, pretty tops and new seasonal denim.
“Whilst it’s no longer all just about loungewear, as you would expect we’re going to be dedicating more space to casualwear in our shops than pre-pandemic. In store customers will also see wardrobe essentials redefined – with relaxed T-shirts and sweats which have now become mainstays updated in fresh, vibrant colours. Optimistic slogan tops have been popular online, and I think lots of customers will pick these up when they visit us in store.”
Image: courtesy of Marks and Spencer