Argos ditching catalogues for ‘digital stores of the future’

29/11/2013

Argos is trialing a six new shops where tablet computers will replace the retailer's trademark laminated catalogues, in a test of what it claims could be ‘the store of the future’.

Watch this promotional video for the new Argos stores below:

In the new digital stores, customers will be able to browse, check product reviews and order via in-store iPads at six "digital concept" shops being launched by the group, with a 60-second fast-track collection service for those pre-ordering online or on mobile devices.

Tables of tablet computers will take the place of its traditional catalogues, pencils and paper slips across the trial outlets, although Argos assured customers it would not axe its catalogues altogether, and would still make them available on customer service desks for those "more comfortable using them for shopping".

The changes – showed off at the Old Street store in East London - were described by managing director John Walden as “the most exciting in Argos’s 40-year history” and a “test of what might be the store of the future”.

There have been extensive changes to the store’s exterior, interior and mechanics to improve the customer journey, enable better engagement of customers by staff and speed up transactions.

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Stores play a part in 90% of Argos’s transactions and Walden said they provide an advantage in the multichannel retail age.

He said: “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 place for colleagues to provide customer service.”

The six trial stores are Old Street, Marble Arch, Old Kent Road – which is the hub store – and Chancery Lane, all in London, along with Colchester and Dunfermline, which are new shops.

The intention is for them to be trading by Christmas. The store was designed by Dalziel and Pow.

The company owned by Home Retail Group Plc is investing £300 million to reinvent itself from a catalogue-led to a digitally-led business.

Almost 50% of Argos customers still pay and collect in stores, although a growing number - around a third - shop online to click and collect.

The move has provoked debate online. "Did anyone else spend hours reading the Argos catalogue as a kid whilst writing a Christmas present list? :-(" One twitter user said

Another consumer wrote: "I hope they do remember this pledge to keep paper catalogues especially for those who arent able to access electronic devises."

A third added: "I think it is a great idea to have them instore, as usually when you go instore you know what you're after so searching on an ipad will be much easier."

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