M&S suffers weekend eCommerce blues

Marks and Spencer’s website crashed on Saturday, with shoppers being confronted with the message: ‘Please bear with us. We’re working hard to be back online as soon as possible’.

The retailer got things back up and running on Saturday afternoon, blaming the incident on complications from planned maintenance work on Friday night. It was embarrassing for M&S, coming at the busiest time of the week and as it looks to transform itself into a ‘digital first’ retailer.

As part of this, it is reportedly in talks to buy distribution centres, delivery vans and lorries from Ocado as it ramps up its food delivery service plans. A City source told the mainstream media earlier this year: “Archie Norman needs something transformational to make his mark at M&S and he is running out of time. The deal on the table is effectively buying the Waitrose part of the Ocado business and replacing it with M&S products.”

If Ocado decides to go ahead with the deal, it would allow the online retailer to focus on selling its technology to supermarkets in other countries. Earlier this month, media and analysts quizzed Ocado's CEO during its full-year financial results, but boss, Tim Steiner, remained tight-lipped about the potential deal. 

Meanwhile, M&S poached a new head of online food from Tesco, Samantha Hornsby last month. Hornsby, is overseeing the running of the grocer's existing online offering and what so far have been small-scale trials in that space, including servicing digital orders from shops and in-store collection.