Marks And Spencer's "Plan A" Doesn't Specifically Mean "Agile." But It Could.

 I’m constantly searching for great examples of agile commerce practitioners. These are hard to find, and it’s rare to come across any one organization that exemplifies everything that we believe an agile business needs to be.

Dynamic. Willing to take calculated risks. Organized for cross-touchpoint customer engagement. A clear vision for the future with the customer firmly at the center.

In the various interviews I do, I frequently find that I end up talking about a British retail icon.

Marks and Spencer.

So what’s so special about M&S, you may ask. Well, not only is M&S a digital innovator in the space of video and its use of social media, but under the leadership of its Chief Executive Mark Bolland it is transforming itself into a truly multichannel organization. With a clear ambition to be the “UK’s leading multichannel retailer,” M&S has set itself a stretching target.

One of the things that convinces me that M&S will continue to deliver on its goals and will lead the way for multichannel retailers not just in the UK, but across the world is the fact that it has taken the inspired step of appointing a senior leader for multichannel. Lots of organizations have a “Head of Multichannel,” but very few place that role directly on the C-level leadership team, and very few actually mean “cross-touchpoint” when they say “multichannel” – most of them really just mean “Head of Online.”

According to our  Global eBusiness And Channel Strategy Professional Online Survey, half of the eBusiness executives we surveyed believe that their current organizational and reporting structure allows their firm to respond in a timely manner to changes in customer buying and service behavior.

Which means half of them believe that their organization isn’t set up for success in the changing world of agile commerce.

And interviews back this up, with organization structure being seen as one of the key blockers to true agile transformation. Having spoken to her already about the insights she will be sharing, I’m fascinated to find out in more detail what Laura Wade-Gery, Executive Director of Multichannel Ecommerce at M&S, has to say on the matter when she speaks at Forrester’s EMEA eBusiness and Channel Strategy Summit in May.

M&S is on a huge journey transforming its eCommerce platform, its store systems, and its supply chain at the same time as growing its international presence and continuing to push the boundaries of what’s happening in digital retail. So if the prospect of myself and Peter Sheldon talking about the Digitization of the In-Store Experience isn’t enough to convince you to attend, maybe Laura’s insights will help.