As one of the UK’s leading retailers with 852 stores in the UK, and 480 international stores across Europe and throughout the world, customs compliance is essential to ensure Marks & Spencer’s business processes run smoothly. In a complex and changing regulatory environment, the company was able to speed processes, increase visibility and achieve a higher level of control using the Descartes Import Customs solution.


Multi-channel businesses are importing and exporting a diverse range of materials and goods from around the world. As a result, the ability to accurately track, control and analyse import and export data on the goods passing through UK ports plays an increasing role in supply chain operational efficiency and profitability. The larger and more multinational the business, the more complex the processes involved.


Since 2007, the major British multinational retailer Marks & Spencer has been working with Descartes Systems Group (Nasdaq: DSGX) (TSX:DSG) to standardise their brokers’ customs declarations. The insight it has of highly granular product-level data with Descartes’ Import Customs Solution and the increased control it has over these processes has helped ensure customs compliance and a streamlined customs declaration process.

“We export and import our products predominantly from the Far East, India and Turkey, all of which need to be declared and many of which are sensitive to varying duty rates,” explains Mark Corby, Senior Global Customs Manager, Marks & Spencer.

“We implemented the Descartes solution to centralise and standardise the system through which we and our customs brokers make the customs declarations. Descartes’ software allows us to control the export and reimport process surrounding these goods to ensure we pay duty correctly and are HMRC compliant.”

Descartes has provided the Marks & Spencer’s customs team with instantaneous access to its customs information, which allows it to validate the data in near real-time, which in turn speeds up the time by which goods can be moved through customs on to the retailer’s warehouse. Furthermore, the system ensures Marks & Spencer’s continued control as new markets come on stream or, in the event of any change to existing or new brokers, receiving data for compliance and cost management without interruption.

“The Descartes’ Import Customs SaaS Solution is incredibly valuable and has the best reporting system I’ve used,” Corby adds. “It has provided us with greater control, streamlined processes and ensures our compliance. The support we have received from the Descartes’ team has been exemplary and they have made a huge contribution to the benefits we have achieved.”


  • Better Access to Information - With the Descartes solution in place, Marks & Spencer has quicker access to customs-related data. With better information, the company can more rapidly clear cargo through customs as well as enable streamlined communication.
  • Simplified Reporting - The Descartes solution has enabled Marks & Spencer to store declaration-related information. This includes advanced recordkeeping capabilities which are essential for cross-border declarations.
  • Standardise Processes - Ensuring that procedures are consistent is essential to enable compliance. The Descartes solution provided Marks & Spencer with a centralized methodology for the company and its customs brokers to submit declarations.
  • Added Compliance - Descartes has helped Marks & Spencer better connect with customs brokers to improve declaration processes, better coordinate shipments, more accurately calculate duties and readily receive information from its supply chain participants.