A new data analysis system developed by Marks & Spencer and ICL, the e-Business services company, is set to transform the way M&S responds to the needs of its customers. The first phase, a basket analysis trial conducted across 38 UK stores, has already led to an increase in sales and greater understanding of purchasing patterns.
The analysis revealed that many customers purchased only one item per visit. In Edinburgh, the addition of newspapers for sale helped increase lunchtime trade, illustrating the propensity of one product to sell with another.
Store layouts and displays have been re-designed to encourage multiple sales. Customers responded favourably to more sales advisors on the shop floor, with an immediate impact on figures. As a result, the average value of goods purchased and the number of items in the basket has increased.
The project was to gather and analyse M&S’s transaction data, extracted daily from ICL’s GlobalStore retail sales management software system. Cameras were also installed above all test store entrances to identify numbers of people entering.
Marks and Spencer will use the system to isolate and track purchases made via credit card, a service introduced in April 2000. This will determine the success of taking credit cards in relation to basket size and value along with the type of products purchased. The programme will also help determine seasonal trading hours.
“This project has provided us with an invaluable source of information about our customers’ needs and perceptions,” said Bill Donald, M&S development manager. “The data gathered from the ICL co-ordinated business analysis also helps us to understand how to best deploy our 1,500 staff, and where. This is a boost for morale as well as sales, as staff see busier stores and increased purchasing.”
Yvette Asscher, business development manager for customer relationship management at ICL, added: “We have developed this basket analysis system with Marks and Spencer in a similar way to online sites which have cookies to track customers spending habits, and preferences to help e-businesses target them successfully. M&S’ trial has allowed them to increase sales, by targeting customers’ buying habits and perceptions.”
Marks & Spencer’s chief market is the UK where the company sells through 296 stores, representing over 12 million square feet of retail footage, and through mail order and e-commerce operations. In the United States the company owns the clothing retailer Brooks Brothers and Kings Super Markets.
ICL designs, builds and operates e-Business solutions for customers in the financial services, telecoms, retail, government, utilities and travel markets.
Headquartered in London, ICL is wholly owned by Fujitsu of Japan.