M&S opened their first store in China back in 2008 on Nanjing Xi Lu in Shanghai growing to around 20 stores in 2013, all located in the East of the country.
Our early market entry assessment was very clear; to be successful online in China we had to be on TMall. I successfully convinced the M&S Board to allow us to set up a local operation in our Shanghai offices and to build out a TMall store and local fulfilment operation; M&S’s very first Marketplace and eCommerce offering not run out of London.
I based myself in Shanghai for 15 months with one other member of my UK team and recruited 4 local M&S staff to get us launched. We built out our fulfilment solution using the localised version of SAP which had the added benefit of allowing us to fulfil orders either from our warehouse or local stores.
We made use of a TMall service partner during the first year to load products, merchandise the site and execute our online marketing plans. As we grew we moved these in-house and now have a team of around 25 people running a number of marketplace stores on TMall and JD.com.
China is now our largest non-English eCommerce business and we are recognised by TMall as a exemplar of how to “do eCommerce” in China.