M&S challenges customers to DIY

High street retailer M&S’ latest idea to give iPads to staff in its wine and clothing departments to boost business is, quite frankly, a waste of money.

The idea is that employees can use the devices to assist customers with finding out more on full product ranges and ordering items instantly to save time in long queues. But, how many consumers can’t do this themselves? Research by Ofcom shows that 39% own a smartphone and 11% own a tablet. If they don’t have access to this then surely the customer services desk is the solution?

M&S is also installing information screens in-store to support customers with checking availability of products. Although in this current climate it wouldn’t be my priority to replicate troubled store Argos’ USP (the company was forced to admit that poor sales meant profits nosedived last quarter.) Consumers are so savvy now it’s clear that they know what they want and where to find it.

I’m all up for technology making our lives easier but in M&S’ case it just seems unnecessary. Surely a big corporation can’t kid itself into thinking a portable computer can empower employees so much that the relationships with their customers will be strengthened? So, what’s it hiding?

Let’s hope this isn’t a cover up for M&S testing if customers can do employees’ work for them. My tip for the iPad staff – download a job search app just in case.

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