British retailer Marks & Spencer takes a giant leap forward in its goal to becoming a multichannel leader with the opening of its new concept store in Amsterdam.
The centerpiece of the 5,000-sq.-ft. space — which marks M&S’ return to the Netherlands after a 10-year absence — is an “E-Boutique” dedicated to womenswear. The shop features what the retailer calls “the world’s first virtual rail,” a display that seamlessly integrates digital rails with physical rails of clothing samples. It is made up of three stacked 46-inch video screens and three physical rails, each holding about 50 items of clothing. The display will showcase the latest trends, and be updated every six weeks.
Shoppers can place orders for free delivery to the store through in-store order points or with iPad-equipped associates. They can also shop via their own mobile phones, using the store's free WiFi.
Customers can also “shop to go,” choosing from the edited selection of fashions that are available to buy in-store on any given day.
“The Netherlands has embraced online shopping — customers adore the ease and convenience of buying clothes this way, which is why we were determined to return with our very latest multichannel thinking,” said Laura Wade-Gery, executive director e-commerce multichannel at Marks & Spencer. “The E-boutique … allows us to offer our latest fashion collections from a much smaller footprint.”
The rest of the store is dedicated primarily to food and beverages, ranging from sandwiches, salads, and wines to M&S’ signature prepared meals and groceries.
The Amsterdam concept shop is just the beginning of M&S’ push into the Netherlands. The company has also launched a new Dutch website, and plans to open a full-line store in The Hague, in 2014, and a flagship in Amsterdam, by spring 2015.