Marketing solutions via technology
A Marks and Spencer case study

Page 3: Retail technology

Marks And Spencer 2 Image 13Retail technology permits retailers to evaluate sales trends and match them to customer needs. Marks & Spencer remains at the forefront of retail technology. It utilises technology and management information across a wide spectrum of activities thereby responding to changing customer requirements. Each time a purchase is made, the Marks & Spencer electronic-point-of-sale (EPOS) till does a lot more than produce a receipt, it links stores to the distribution network by recording sales, adjusting stock and providing information to influence buying decisions.

EPOS information also helps to develop shape of chain’ information for each Marks & Spencer store, by identifying products which sell well and takes into account the different sales patterns throughout the chain, including seasonal variations and consumption trends. This helps Marks & Spencer to monitor customer spending, avoid out of stock positions and generates specific sales and marketing data.

Food Stock Adjustments (FSA)

The process of satisfying customer requirements, through physical distribution activities, is more complex than just ensuring goods turn up at the right place at the right time. In a perfect world, stock arrives promptly, is in good condition and is sold quickly thereby negating expiry dates. However, we do not live in a perfect world, therefore stock adjustments are a necessity to ensure the maintenance of satisfactory stock levels.

There are a number reasons why stock adjustments need to take place. Stock levels need to be adjusted where food has gone beyond its expiry date (DEF) or when food is returned to the manufacturer (RTM). This may be due to damaged packaging, too much fat on a joint of meat or simply that the product has not met quality requirements and will not be made available for sale. Further adjustments take place when stock is transferred to other stores.

In the past, the process of stock adjustments took place through a system known as Food Stock Adjustments (FSA). This involved some completion of paper records for RTM, transfer and self supply and keeping duplicate copies. The process was time-consuming and provided limited information for very few users and was often difficult to trace.

A merchandiser needs good management information to enable him/her to understand a problem when it arises and the reasons for the problem developing. If, for example, on the previous day an RTM for £250 occurred on poultry and had been recorded, the merchandiser would want to know it had occurred. Recording the reasons for this RTM using a paper system would have meant that the information was out of date before the paper copy reached the head office buying department.

Marks and Spencer | Marketing solutions via technology

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