Argos: The death of the catalogue?

By Jessica Benton | 18 Sep 2013

Argos revolutionised the catalogue retailing concept. Now the renowned UK chain is developing new multichannel strategies to stay ahead of the curve in the digital era.

Renowned UK chain, Argos, has moved into digital territory, offering more than 33,000 general merchandise products through, combined with its growing mobile channels, stores, telephone orders and Argos TV.

The company is firmly entrenched as a UK household name, operating 740 stores country-wide. Now, Argos is attempting to serve customers wherever they choose to shop – in-store, online through the mobile-optimised site or with mobile apps.

Argos has also expanded its international arm, launching an e-commerce store in Spain, China and Ireland, while its bricks-and-mortar footprint has remained UK-based after unsuccessful launches in The Netherlands and India. The Chinese expansion follows a joint venture between Argos’ parent company Home Retail Group and Chinese manufacturing giant Haier.

Argos Store

Argos is moving away from its traditional in-store catalogue shopping

While Argos started out with a traditional catalogue ordering system, it announced recently it would phase out the print catalogue to trim back costs and maintain its online focus. Tablet devices and screen-based ordering will instead be used in-store. The transition from print to digital is a trend many retailers are taking part in, answering to changing consumer behaviours, technology updates and sales activity.

“Print won’t go away, and the catalogue won’t go away. But the classic catalogue, the 1,800-page price reference guide, is likely to (fade away) eventually, perhaps rapidly, as customers increasingly use digital channels. We can’t just pull the catalogue, but we do know the trend is changing, and demand for the catalogue is declining,” Managing Director John Walden told The Financial Times.

Focal components of the 2012 relaunched website include clearer navigation, powerful search, relevant product recommendations, similar item listings and easy purchase options like a one-click Check & Reserve selection.

The website’s About Us page states the online channel enjoys “430 million website visits annually. Argos serves around 130 million customers a year through its network of 740 stores. In the financial year to February 2012, Argos sales were £3.9 billion”.

Argos has listened to changing customer habits, introducing catalogue apps and other interactive devices as part of its highly engaging and interactive customer journey plan. With multichannel development at the heart of its business plans, Argos aims to achieve sustainable growth.

Argos App

You can now shop on the go with the Argos app

An important part of Argos’ growth strategy is connecting customer feedback across multiple channels and touch points. The retailer partnered with Ratings and Reviews specialists Bazaarvoice to make user-generated content like reviews and recommendations available across all channels. Whether a customer uses the click-and-collect service online or sends a text to Check and Reserve a product they’ve seen in a catalogue, the same user-generated content is made available marrying up an omnichannel shopping environment. Argos has also added reviews to its promotional emails.

“Conversations play a big part in helping the customer choose and make sure the product is suitable for them based on what other customers have fed back,” says Argos E-Commerce Operations Manager, Jim Bassett.

Following in the footsteps of other retailers, Argos recently added a same day delivery option to its fulfilment offering. Partnering with London-based logistics provider Shutl, Argos now offers same-day and same-hour deliveries to central areas of the country.

For Argos, the shift to digital is not only a logical step, providing a more powerful medium through which to communicate with consumers, but also sets them up as a leader, repositioning itself as digitally-led rather than catalogue-led. Its digital transformation plan will hopefully pave the way to increased digital commerce through online, mobile and tablet.

This story was first published in Power Retail’s inaugural 2013 Australian E-Commerce Solutions Guide.

0 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *