As part of their successful multichannel retail design strategy, Argos have recently revealed plans to open a series of new pilot ‘digital concept stores’ in response to an ongoing trend in sales shifting from high street to online commerce – and to entice shoppers back into their retail stores.
According to the chief executive of Argos’ parent company, Home Retail – Terry Duddy, a handful of the new design stores will open on a trial basis within the next few weeks. The decision follows the recent publication of interim results showing another quarterly rise in Argos’ like-for-like sales – the fifth consecutive rise in the last eighteen months.
Argos Catalogues to be replaced by tablets?
The locations of the new digital stores have not yet been revealed but they will feature high tech offerings including voice controlled stock picking, a fast-track collection system and tablet computers for customers to use instead of the pen and paper forms and rows of Argos catalogues or the ‘Laminated Book Of Dreams’ as comedian Bill Bailey once famously called them.
After trialling these new concepts, the successful elements of the new digital stores will then be rolled out to the rest of Argos’ 700-odd UK stores – this forward-thinking approach is designed to arm Argos for the shift to multi-channel retail – as Duddy explains: “We want something that gives a good sense of the future”.
The long-term plan is to develop Argos into a ‘digital retail leader’ under the auspices of new managing director, John Walden and so far this approach seems to be working as the store’s multichannel operations have showed continued strong growth.
Retail Trail Blazers
When it comes to new concepts in retail design strategy, Argos have always blazed a trail. They pioneered now-commonplace ideas such as smartphone shopping apps and digital services such as click-and-collect. They are now focusing on gathering customer data by encouraging shoppers to register their details – which is not necessary for services such as click-and-collect – in order to be able to understand their customers better and target specially tailored marketing materials directly to them.
The number of registered Argos customers has doubled in the past year. And as a result of this, the retailer hope to send out 100 million customer emails with bespoke product recommendations this Christmas in their biggest ever personalised campaign.
But will the customers mind this marketing onslaught or welcome the Christmas gift inspiration? Judging by Argos’ past successes we are expecting them to take the lead again and will be interested to see what they pull out of the bag next when it comes to multichannel retail strategies.