May 2, 2005, 12:00 AM

Amazon moves into Europe with its first e-commerce services deal

Marks & Spencer, the large U.K.-based multi-category retailer, is turning to Amazon.com Inc. for a better multi-channel ordering system in addition to improved functionality at MarksandSpencer.com. The move marks Amazon’s entry into the European market for enterprise retail e-commerce services.

Marks & Spencer, the large U.K.-based multi- category retailer, is turning to Amazon.com Inc. for a better multi-channel ordering system in addition to improved functionality at MarksandSpencer.com. The move marks Amazon`s entry into the European market for enterprise retail e-commerce services.

Marks & Spencer, which sells products including apparel, home furnishings and wine, will use an Amazon-hosted e-commerce platform to support a single ordering system for its three selling channels of stores, call center and web, the retailer says. "Marks & Spencer already has a successful web site with over 24 million visits every year, but our e-commerce and customer ordering capabilities have yet to reach their full potential," says Steven Sharp, director of marketing and e-commerce.

The single cross-channel ordering system, by replacing three separate systems in use today, will let customer service reps respond with information about orders regardless of which channel a customer shopped, a spokeswoman says. "With Amazon, we`ll be able to track customer orders from in-store to the web to call centers," she says.

Marks & Spencer also expects to leverage Amazon`s web site expertise to improve the performance of its MarksandSpencer.com. "Our site is fine at the moment, but it`s not sophisticated in terms of functionality," the spokeswoman says. "Once on the Amazon platform, we`ll begin to exploit all the benefits, including a better site search engine, that come with it."

Marks & Spencer and Amazon say the first phase of new service capabilities will be completed early next summer, when Marks & Spencer customers will begin to see the benefits of an integrated multi-channel ordering service. Marks & Spencer will maintain control over management of its web site, customer service, warehousing and distribution.

Amazon is already a provider of e-commerce services to several U.S. retailers, including Toys `R` Us Inc., The Bombay Company Inc., Target Corp. and Borders Group Inc.

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