Variety retailer takes step away from catalogue heritage in latest multichannel move with the introduction of tablets and fast-track collection service
UK online and High Street retailer Argos today unveiled its first of six digital concept stores that aim to redefine the role of its store for a digital future.
Ditching traditional printed catalogues and paper order forms in favour of iPads and offering a 60-second fast track collection service for customers purchasing goods online or via mobile devices will transform the Argos shopping journey for consumers and provide a consistent experience with its internet and mobile shopping channels, it said.
Customers shopping in the first of the stores, in Old Street, London, will use iPads with expanded shopping applications such as product videos and customer reviews, or personal mobile devices via free instore Wi-Fi, rather than Argos’ classic laminated catalogues, pencils and stock checker machines.
Responding to digital shopping expectations
The company added that catalogues were not disappearing in the near-term, as they will still be available to collect from staff in the newly designed customer service area. But digital display screens and more flexible product displays will also replace static sales literature and paper posters, which will enable it to offer innovative ways to engage customers and support suppliers.
The new London-based digital concept stores will also trial Argos’ hub and spoke distribution model. The larger ‘hub’ store will stock an expanded range of around 20,000 lines and run routes to deliver products in a van to its smaller ‘spoke’ stores. It said this would provide all stores with either immediate, same day or next day access to an expanded range of products.
Argos currently generates over 40 per cent of its sales via digital channels, with revenue from mobile phones and tablets accounting for 16% of total sales. And it stated that around 90% of all customer transactions touch one of its stores.
Reconfiguring strategic store value
John Walden, Argos managing director, said the stores were part of its plans to move its business a more integrated, multichannel model where the store continues to figure as a customer service and order fulfilment hub, in addition to supporting the retailer’s recent eBay partnership
“The new digital concept stores enable us to trial with customers several important features of what we believe a store should offer in a digital future, such as a modern and universally appealing environment, a fast and digitally-enabled shopping journey, market-leading fulfilment options for an increasing range of products, and friendly colleagues that provide a human touch in an otherwise impersonal digital transaction,” he said in a statement.
“We anticipate that our digital concept stores, and the several features in trial, will prove valuable in instructing any future changes we may make across to our store estate to further the Argos transformation.”
Industry analyst Planet Retail
said it believed that Argos’ store refit is the right move. “Offering an appealing shopping experience in its retail outlets remains a crucial differentiator, as stores remain at the heart of Argos’ business,” it wrote today in an online bulletin. “The company is likely to be looking at bringing the most successful elements of the trial to the rest of its network.”