Work _ marks & Spencer

Making customers part of the conversation as the business transforms into a product-led organisation

Making customers part of the conversation as the business transforms into a product-led organisation


Product Strategy, Design & Build


Back in 2021, with the world having been rocked by COVID-19 and the resulting spike in e-commerce, we were invited to support M&S to better understand the role that retail stores — and colleagues — will play in customers’ lives in a future powered by digital.

We have since cemented ourselves as a key partner and ally for the iconic British retailer – helping them solve acute problems in core customer journeys, guide big strategic initiatives, and identify new avenues for growth. All on a solid foundation of customer and market insight.

The shift to a product-led organisation has been a key factor in the success M&S has seen of late, across both its clothing, home and food businesses. It’s been our role to ensure the customer — their needs, motivations and behaviours — are at the forefront of internal teams minds whatever initiative is being worked on.


Fast & Slow – defined a simple set of retail shopping modes to design for, helping internal teams better understand and empathise with customers

Do it live – created a process for rapid discovery, getting into stores and testing prototypes with customers in real scenarios to gain actionable insights to guide product development

Redefining loyalty – supported the M&S loyalty strategy, helping to reimagine how value is delivered to customers


The future role of the store: Zero-touch fulfilment networks vs High-touch experience hubs.

With the mechanics of e-commerce firmly under their belt, the M&S board wanted to better understand the future role of the store – what will bring people towards them and how they should plan for it.

We were engaged to present a provocative perspective on the possible role of the store in a future powered by digital, stimulating much internal debate and discussion.

We devised a simple framework to look at a store objectively and conceptually – mixing high and low touch experiences whilst refocusing technology’s potential to drive in-store purchasing. Through deep qualitative research we were able to help stakeholders pull back and see their role at large, as a presence in the community and a connector of people.

Our counter approach to the board pack facilitated animated discourse around the benefits and flaws inherent in each direction. It shifted mindsets about the role of the store, creating a more people-centric outlook.

Diagram showcasing tension between fulfilment and experience

Shopping fast, shopping slow: A connected retail selling platform fit for the future.

With the technology team in the process of reviewing their payment partners and systems, we were engaged to co-create a future-proofed ‘seamless shopping vision’ to inform key technology decisions. Our extensive experience in the payments space and our holistic approach to problem solving was a key reason for our appointment.

As part of the project we facilitated ethnographic research studies across the UK with a wide range of customers spanning both clothing, home and food shopping missions. The insights gained informed a technology roadmap and investment cases for different payment and check-out technologies and what role they would play in future shopping journeys. New language around shopping missions and modes was enthusiastically adopted by management and is still used to this day to help guide decisions.

Scan and shop in store

Do it live! A repeatable process for rapidly testing new concepts in real life scenarios.

With the expansion of self-service checkout tills in-store, M&S recognised the opportunity — and potential inconveniences — it posed for customers. To address this, M&S aimed to assess customer appetite for self-serve across different shopping journeys and the necessary operational, layout, hardware, interface, and podia adjustments any new service might require.

Using a six-week, three-sprint process, we fully immersed ourselves in the self-serve opportunity. Through close collaboration with diverse stakeholders, we facilitated workshops to generate hypotheses and ideas. We swiftly designed experiments and conducted rapid tests in a live store environment with real customers in collaboration with store colleagues. This provided valuable initial insights into customer receptiveness to self-serve, and highlighted key operational considerations.

Phone with receipt

Creating the momentum required to achieve ideas across the full product life-cycle.

Embedded approaches and methodologies to shift mindsets and help teams consider business and customer drivers in equal measure

Omni-channel strategic and product initiatives we have supported continue to be realised as part of the long term strategic roadmap

We are proud to have become a trusted partner, working with different parts of the business to further enhance the retail experience

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