Amazon books deal with Marks & Sparks

Warning: Gag-free story, nothing funny here, promise

Book outfit Amazon is to help Marks & Spencer flog its gear online because the UK retailer's previous stab at ecommerce hasn't been up to scratch.

Amazon will host and provide all the techie stuff behind Marks & Sparks' website including in-store and telephone ordering, and customer services systems.

M&S will continue to manage its website, customer service operations, warehousing and distribution.

Said Steven Sharp, M&S's top man for ecommerce: "Marks & Spencer already has a successful website with over 24 million visits every year, but our ecommerce and customer ordering capabilities have yet to reach their full potential. A partnership with Amazon will help us achieve this, while allowing us to concentrate on our core business of retailing."

Speculation that M&S planned to hook up with Amazon surfaced in September last year. At the time M&S was busy trying to rebuild its status as the UK's top clothes retailer after surviving a damaging takeover bid from retailing tycoon Philip Green during this summer. Although some M&S execs were concerned that handing over the retailer's ecommerce operation to Amazon would be an admission of failure, it seems the giant retailer decided that such a move was essential to its future.

Last December, M&S's site went titsup after being crushed by a huge number of eager shoppers keen to cash in on a pre-Christmas sale. ®

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