British Retailer Marks and Spencer Launches Major E-Commerce Push in China

Marks and Spencer China ecommerce site

The Marks and Spencer homepage for China (background), and its new e-commerce store-front on Tmall.

Marks and Spencer (LON:MKS) might have 12 brick-and-mortar stores in five Chinese cities already, but it’s surprisingly only this week that the UK retailer is sorting out its e-commerce strategy in the country. The fashion-oriented chain has just launched a Chinese version of its homepage along with a virtual store-front on Tmall, the nation’s largest online mall.

Realistically, it’s the Marks and Spencer Tmall store (see it here) that’s far more important and will see much more traffic. Alibaba-owned Tmall dominates the B2C e-tailing sector in China, and is home to store-fronts from lots of global and Chinese brands. This e-commerce effort also opens up the whole of China to the British company, as most of its physical stores are centered on the usual eastern China hub around Shanghai.

The China roll-outs are part of a broader e-commerce push by M&S into 10 international markets.

Marks and Spencer’s most recent interim management statement describes China and India as “key international markets” for the retailer. Non-UK sales were up 4.1 percent in the third quarter of 2012, outpacing lacklustre 0.3 percent growth within the UK.

As a Brit, it’s a bit disappointing that the new M&S Tmall site does not sell any of its food, as surely the best part of a Marks and Sparks is its vast food hall.

(Hat-tip to JingDaily for spotting this)

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