Leading UK online and high-street retailer Argos yesterday unveiled its first of six digital concept stores that aim to redefine the role of a store for a digital future. The digital concept stores transform the Argos shopping journey for consumers, offer consistent experiences with Argos’ internet and mobile shopping channels, and provide either immediate, same day or next day fulfilment on an expanded range of around 20,000 products.
The new stores have a fresh and modern look. They offer a new 60-second Fast Track collection service, for customers purchasing goods online or via mobile devices. Customers shopping in-store will use iPads with expanded shopping applications such as product videos and customer reviews, or personal mobile devices via free in-store WiFi, rather than Argos’ classic laminated catalogues, pencils and stock checker machines. Catalogues are not disappearing in the near term; they will still be available to collect from colleagues or as shopping aides in the newly designed customer service area of digital stores.
Dynamic digital display screens will replace static sales literature and paper posters, and together with flexible product displays will offer innovative ways to inspire customers and support suppliers. With customers increasingly using digital channels for shopping and transacting, more Argos store colleagues can help customers on the sales floor to navigate digital resources and make the right purchase decision.
Behind the scenes, the new London-based digital concept stores will also trial Argos’ innovative hub & 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. This will provide all stores with either immediate, same day or next day access to an expanded range of products.
Marking a key milestone in its 40-year history, the digital concept stores will equip Argos for the accelerating digital revolution. Shoppers will increasingly browse and buy online via PCs, tablets and smartphones, while still wanting the convenience and friendly service of a local store to pick up their purchases. Argos currently generates over 40% of its sales via digital channels, with revenue from mobile phones and tablets accounting for 16% of total sales. Around 90% of all customer transactions touch one of Argos’ stores.
John Walden, Managing Director of Argos, said: “We are early in our ambitious plan to transform Argos into a digital retail leader. We are seeking to reposition our stores to support a digital future - in which digital channels are the primary interface for customers, but stores continue to be critically important as a national network for product collection, and a local presence for local colleagues to provide customer service.
“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.
“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.”