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M&S rolls out "virtual rail" in Amsterdam store

Marks & Spencer is poised to open a swathe of new stores in the Netherlands, marking a return to its chief executive’s home country after several years’ absence.

The move will combine both ecommerce and a “clicks and bricks” strategy in line with the retailer’s return to France two years ago, a decade after originally pulling out of the country.

The Dutch mobile-optimised website will launch tomorrow, offering items priced in Euros and with local delivery and payment options.

On the same day M&S will open the doors of a new shop in Amsterdam’s Kalverstraat, where customers can “browse and buy the latest London style from M&S’ new eboutique, which features a truly unique ‘virtual rail’,” the company said.

The concept integrates digital rails with physical rails of clothing samples, enabling customers to place orders for free delivery through in store points, sales assistants’ iPads or on their own phone using the store’s wifi.

An edited selection of womenswear will also be available to buy on the day.

Laura Wade-Gery, executive director of e-commerce multi-channel, said: “Customers adore the ease and convenience of buying clothes this way, which is why we were determined to return with our very latest multi-channel thinking.”

She added: “It’s innovative, aspirational and allows us to offer our latest fashion collections from a much smaller footprint.” 

M&S will also open a full store in The Hague next spring as well as a flagship store in Amsterdam by autumn 2015, which will be complemented by six Simply Food pilots opening throughout the country, starting with Utrecht in September this year.  

Speaking from Amsterdam, chief executive Marc Bolland said: “We’re coming back in a new way because Holland is one of the most internet savvy countries in Europe. We are therefore launching our new website and a brand new eboutique as a first step towards rolling out a number of stores in the Netherlands.”

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