I read with interest your feature on Marc Bolland and the challenges that lay ahead for him at Marks & Spencer. You mentioned how M&S is investing in its move to be a fully integrated multi-channel retailer. However, there was no mention of the challenge it faces in improving its customer relationships.

In today's market, retailers need a deep insight and understanding of their customer base. I feel M&S might be missing a trick when it comes to getting to know customers.

A prime example is the M&S Rewards scheme, which doesn't allow as deep an insight into the customer base as it could.

The scheme is built into a credit card, which means it can only provide data on the shopping behaviour of people who are happy and wealthy enough to use a high-rate card. The spend is constrained by credit limit and payment type, further removing opportunities to capture data. And the fact that it is a credit card will put people off using it as regularly as a loyalty card.

By expanding the points scheme across all payment types, channels and brands, as Sainsbury's and Tesco have done, M&S could capture data from more customers and include shopping habits, preferences and financial transactions. This would give it the ability to target its customers with relevant offers.

Ian Stockley, MD, Indicia