Marks and Sparks to sell online

Under performing M&S attempt to woo customers back via the Net

Marks & Spencer will sell online as part of its strategy to woo customers back to the troubled store it was announced Monday.

The company's foray into e-commerce will be cautious. Its Web site will initially feature around 200 seasonal lines as the high street store tries to cash in on its first e-Christmas. The range will be extended in the New Year but no details of this are yet available.

The company announced poor first-half financial results last week and critics have accused M&S of being too slow to embrace e-commerce. Jupiter analyst Noah Yasskin reckons M&S has struggled to convince its directors of the benefits of e-commerce. "For a lot of traditional organisations the main problem is channel conflicts. There would be worries about cannibalising its bricks and mortar business and they would have had to convince directors about the advantage of investing online," he says.

Yasskin believes the company's strong branding will stand it in good stead and advises a bold strategy. "They must use their bricks and mortar stores to drive traffic to the online store. That could give them a significant advantage."