Date Posted: Wed 21st September 2011

After newly appointed Chief Executive, Marc Bolland, arrived at M&S he ordered research to be carried out by McKinsey, top consultancy providers, into buying patterns within UK stores.

Results said that customers found the store difficult to navigate and had trouble finding what they were looking for. Upon hearing this Bolland tested 30 colleagues by asking them to find just five items within the store in under an hour. Only eight completed the task.

This has prompted Bolland to embark on a new way of retail layout in their stores, but we have to ask…are they setting themselves up for a fall?

We all huff and puff when our local Sainsbury’s changes its layout or moves products, not only because it takes us an extra hour to finish our usual shop but because our trolley mysteriously fills up with things that we never planned to buy.

Seeing things that we don’t usually see can spark immediate interest and cause us to become impulsive, not worrying about the purse strings, but suddenly “needing the new and improved, fancy sun dried tomato ciabatta”

Now relate this to your local M&S, if you’re looking for a nice leather overnight bag for your holidays and there’s a big arrow pointing to leather overnight bags, then you will simply buy your bag and go off on your holidays, if however, it takes you some amount of time to find this bag and you happen to see “this seasons hottest beach hat” or “the M&S answer to ‘on trend’ knitwear” then its fair to say that your holiday suitcase may just include a new hat for lazing on the beach and a gorgeous new cardigan for those cooler holiday evenings!

Well that’s mission accomplished for M&S, less money in your pocket and more ringing of their tills, but maybe that won’t be the case with a less complicated, easy to navigate store layout.

Have M&S forgotten the power of browsing and one of the key principles to retail?