2.1 Description and Comparison of Online and Offline Retail Environment of offline and online retail environment for Marks & Spencer clothing department and its competitors
Marks & Spencer has over 11% of British clothing and footwear market, the nearest competitor of the firm in the clothing retailer market is Next which has a market share of 7%, and the second competitor is Zara that controls less than one percent of the market. Even those figure showed that Marks & Spencer held great position for itself in the market; however, it was the fifth consecutive quarter that it has lost ground in womenswear (The Economist 2012). The sale of clothing of the firms has been fell 6.8% between April and June in 2012 compared with the same period the year before 2012 (M&S Annual Report 2012). The declines in the past years were because firstly Marks & Spencer had previously focusing on quality of its products and offering value of money. However, the company did not expect the fickleness of the customer trends and change in fashion (Oliver, 2005); and secondly is the global recession. There will have detail description of offline and online retail environment for Marks & Spencer clothing department and its competitors.
2.1.1 Online retail marketplace
With the developing of Internet and high technology products, customer no need to go to a shop to buy goods, they can search through their computer, laptop, smart phone and other devices. In this modern society, customers could find, purchase and get anything without leaving their home. Because of the global recession, customers trend to buy clothes that more valuable than before and they have spent less since the recession began (Mintel Report 2010), which means it is easier for them to search online rather than go out to find one piece of cloth shop by shop. This also saves time and money for the customers. Thus, all the competitors of Marks & Spencer that mentioned above were developing their online retailer market to attract more new customers as well as keep their exist customers.
Marks & Spencer provided full details of their clothing; include price, material, colour and size of their clothing. In order to help customer while purchase the cloth, they also provide a guide of size for customer, to help them make decision. During this circumstance, customer only need open the website of the firm and browse the type of clothes that they would like to purchase and find the one they believe suits best and just purchase it online as it will be delivery to the address in few days.
Each and most every clothing retail companies like Marks & Spencer, Next, Zara and etc. are offering their clothing on their websites and some of them deliver the clothing to customers for free. Many of them have newsletter for their exits customers, it gives customer to check out the information of the firm and discount information as well; and get the consumers a chance to compare between the different brand for price and material. The newsletter also gives consumers the opportunity to chasing fashion, as mentioned before. Marks & Spencer would like to provide the most convenient shopping experience for their customers, form their multi-channel ways (M&S Annual Report 2012).
2.1.2 Offline retail marketplace
Clothing is a thing that is easily available both online and offline, people can go to store to find out many different clothing; by style, price and material; and compare them with others as most of the competitors of Marks & Spencer are hold store in high street in cities. For Marks & Spencer, there were 731 store in UK and 387 stores internationally, those figures were increased compare with 2011 (M&S Annual Report 2012). Hence, it could say that there is still a marketplace for offline clothing retail, the reasons of that situation happened are because, firstly, even people are trending to shopping online more