M&S equip wine advisors with iPadsBy Patrick Schmitt
Marks & Spencer has started equipping its wine advisors with iPads to more closely connect its online and offline operations.
The use of the tablet computer coincides with the supermarket’s decision to fit stores with free Wi-Fi as well as feature QR codes on shelves, allowing customers in its shops to not only learn about the wines its stocks on the web, but also buy them online.
Currently, just 12 branches of Marks & Spencer have wine advisors with iPads, but Andrew Bird, head of trading for grocery and drinks, told the drinks business that the retailer was “rolling out” the concept.
He also said that as many as 20 stores are now wired up with Wi-Fi, such as the M&S in Kensington in west London, and that more are being fitted with the wireless service.
Meanwhile the iPads allow the wine advisors to simply scan the QR codes on point of sale material in the shops to bring up information about the wines on shelf.
According to Bird, the combination of the computers and QR codes will encourage shoppers to converse with the wine advisors.
It will also allow customers in-store to pay for the wine by ordering online with the advisor’s assistance.
In effect, the shops, said Bird, become “a showroom for the wine”, allowing the customer to handle and in some cases taste the product, before buying it through the M&S website, and then having it delivered to their house.
“There is a convergence of the internet and in-store offer,” said Bird.
“There are so many places where what we do in-store touches on e-commerce – what you do online is relevant to how you behave in-store,” he explained, speaking of browsing as well as buying.
He also said that the supermarket’s “multichannel offer is leading edge”, referring to the merging of Marks & Spencer’s different retailing channels – such as in-store, online or through mobile applications.
“We have a director of multichannel on the executive board – that’s how seriously we take this part of the business,” he stated.