How M&S increased engagement and achieved listings consistency with 1,063 stores

Marks & Spencer's St Helens store.
How M&S increased engagement and achieved listings consistency with 1,063 stores
Duncan is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism. Having launched his tech journalism career as editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai, he has since edited an array of tech and digital marketing publications, including Computer Business Review, TechWeekEurope, Figaro Digital, Digit and Marketing Gazette.

Marks & Spencer (M&S) is a leading British retailer bringing quality, great value food, clothing and homeware to millions of customers across the UK and around the world, from everyday style on M&, to the very best prawn sandwiches at convenience M&S Simply Food locations.

The problem:

M&S continued to serve its customers throughout lockdown and strived to find new ways to help them shop with confidence and find the information they need online to shop with ease. This was particularly challenging because M&S operates as a family of businesses, including brands such as M&S Simply Food, M&S Outlet and M&S products within Ocado across 1,000+ locations.

In addition, with each brand operating as an independent location on Google My Business, inconsistent listing information meant improving online visibility at the local level. This meant cleaning up the listings data for 1,000+ locations, ensuring each one was up-to-date, complete and consistent

The solution:

M&S began working with Uberall in 2018 with the goal of cleaning up the listings data for all its 1,000+ stores.

M&S stepped up its work with Uberall when the pandemic hit in March 2020, incorporating real-time information directly from M&S’s data into the Uberall platform using the Uberall Listings solution.

This enabled consumers to more easily find M&S locations online in their nearby vicinity. This was particularly important as, when a customer performs a ‘Near Me’ search on their phone or digital device, they have a huge digital ecosystem at their fingertips, and around 53 percent of all Google searches today are ‘Near Me’ searches, indicating that every second search asks for places and things “nearby”. This meant M&S had to deliver a seamless ‘Near Me’ customer experience at every touch point, including for its 1,063 locations. Listings enabled M&S to effectively manage the online listings of these locations from a single platform – ensuring they are up-to-date, complete and consistent across all search platforms, directories, navigation services and more.

From Google My Business and Apple Maps to Yelp and Facebook, M&S and was able to showcase its locations in over 125 online platforms, meaning customers can find the information they’re looking for, wherever they are looking for it.

In addition, M&S was able to take full control of its local Search Engine Optimisation and location marketing, determining which images and text customers could see by publishing clean and consistent data across all platforms, as well as easily monitor how consumers become customers by gaining insight into how consumers act before they visit a location – do they click or call? –  if there is a particular store that outperforms others, and many more insights.

M&S was able to increase the number of customers searching and shopping online to find detailed, current information on what items were available and in stock, opening times and COVID-related shopping regulations in M&S’s 1,000+ stores, regardless of online channel.

The result:

With Uberall Listings, M&S has achieved up-to-date, complete and consistent online listings for all of its 1,063 stores, improving online visibility at the local level and making it far easier for M&S’s 31 million customers to find extensive, up-to-date information on M&S’s stores, no matter which search platform they use – from Google and Yelp, to Waze and Apple Maps.

Over the Summer of 2020, M&S also extended its use of Uberall’s visual tool – one of the first retailers to do so. With the use of this tool, M&S could share its customer COVID guidelines through multiple online channels – helping improve customer awareness of measures in place and steps they need to take. All M&S listings for example, note that masks are to be worn in M&S stores. M&S could also include and upload more relevant imagery to reflect changing customer trends, such as using more wellness and home pictures as customer interest in health & fitness and home improvement increased dramatically during lockdown.

In addition, in the run up to the 2020 Christmas period, with several M&S shops operating longer hours near the big day to ensure time for everyone to shop enjoyably and safely whilst adhering to social distancing, it was equally as important for M&S to ensure the listings were updated to reflect changing opening hours, COVID shopping regulations, and festive imagery.

With Uberall Listings, M&S has increased customer engagement on Google – with an increase of customers viewing M&S imagery on average from 35,000 per day to 235,000 per day within just four weeks.

Chloe Barrow, SEO content assistant, M&S, said: “Through the COVID crisis, we’ve seen how local communications are more important than ever before. With Uberall Listings, we’re primed to ensure our customers can continue to shop with confidence.”

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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